White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated on Tuesday that President Joe Biden is “absolutely” committed to nominating a black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court if a vacancy arises.
The issue arose as the Biden administration announced its first group of 11 nominated attorneys and judges. The diverse listed included multiple black women.
“I think there is an incredible group of nominees the president announced today. … As someone who served for 17 years on the Senate Judiciary Committee as chairman and ranking member, he has a long history on judicial appointments,” Psaki said.
“This is a priority for him, but our focus is getting the Senate to confirm this group of nominees and to continue to build … a pipeline of additional highly qualified nominees who are going to reflect the values the president has outlined.”
The commitment remains hypothetical at this time, as there is not a current vacancy on the court. The nine justices currently include six conservatives and three liberals.
The Supreme Court currently includes three women. Conservative Amy Coney Barrett is the most recent addition in 2020, alongside liberal justices Elean Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
The court’s only black justice remains Clarence Thomas. President Bush nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court where Thomas has served since 1991.
The oldest current justice is liberal Stephen Breyer. He turns 83 in 2021, and has served since his appointment by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Biden may be committed to a black female justice, but the decision will only matter if he has an opportunity to act. If a vacancy does arise, it is certain his choice will also be a liberal candidate, leading to high scrutiny from conservatives during the nomination process.