Pence criticizes Biden’s pledge to nominate Black woman to Supreme Court

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday criticized President Biden for pledging to nominate a Black woman to replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court.

In a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, Pence bemoaned that Biden was making his decision “based first and foremost on the candidate’s race and gender.”

He cited an ABC News/Ipsos poll published Sunday that showed 76 percent of Americans wanted the president to consider “all possible nominees” while just 23 percent wanted him to only consider Black women for the nomination. 

“President Biden should consider all possible nominees first and foremost on their character and their commitment to the rule of law,” Pence said, suggesting the focus from some liberals on “identity politics” was hurting the country.

Pence noted he had Justice Clarence Thomas administer the oath of office when he was sworn in as vice president, saying he did so not because of his race but because Thomas “is simply the most consistent constitutional conservative on the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Biden said during his 2020 presidential campaign that he would nominate a Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court if given the chance to do so. No Black woman has ever served on the nation’s highest court.

The president reiterated that pledge when Breyer announced his retirement last week. Biden said he expects to put forward a nominee by the end of February.

Pence’s criticism echoed that of some other conservatives who have complained that Biden’s pledge excludes qualified candidates and amounts to an “affirmative action” pick. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are among those who have criticized the idea of zeroing in on a Black woman to serve on the court.

Other Republicans, such as Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), have said they have no problem with specifically nominating a Black woman.

The White House has pushed back on the criticism from Republicans, noting the nominee has not even been put forward and already some in the GOP are chastising the pick.

“If anyone is saying they plan to characterize whoever he nominates after thorough consideration with both parties as ‘radical’ before they knew literally anything about who she is, they just obliterated their own credibility,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week.

Tags Clarence Thomas Jen Psaki Joe Biden Josh Hawley Lindsey Graham Mike Pence Mitt Romney Roger Wicker Stephen Breyer Supreme Court Ted Cruz

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