No. 3 Senate Democrat says Biden should tap Black woman for Supreme Court

Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, on Wednesday called for President Biden to nominate a Black woman to replace retiring liberal Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court. 

Murray is the first Senate Democrats to call for Biden to increase diversity on the conservative-majority high court, but many are expected to join her.

“In the wake of Justice Breyer’s retirement, I want to voice my support for President Biden in his pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court,” Murray said in a statement released immediately after news broke that Breyer would step down at the end of the court’s current term.  

“The Court should reflect the diversity of our country, and it is unacceptable that we have never in our nation’s history had a Black woman sit on the Supreme Court of the United States — I want to change that,” she said.   

A leading candidate is D.C. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia with the support of all 50 Senate Democrats and three Senate Republicans.  

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) voted to confirm her in June.   

Murray on Wednesday said there are other potential candidates for the job to replace Breyer but did not name them.

“There is no shortage of exceptional nominees who would serve with the judgment, qualifications, and ethical standards each Supreme Court Justice should embody—and Black women in America should be able to look at the highest court in the land and finally see themselves represented,” she said.  

Biden himself pledged during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary that he would make history by nominating a Black woman if elected president.  

“We talked about the Supreme Court — I’m looking forward to making sure there’s a Black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure we, in fact, get everyone represented,” he said in February 2020.  

Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, a left-leaning advocacy group that favors changing the ideological balance of the Supreme Court, identified Jackson as a strong potential pick.   

“Biden will get a chance to make history by putting the first Black woman on SCOTUS, and he will have many highly qualified candidates to choose from. One of those candidates, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, was supported by all 50 Dems and three Republicans for DC Circuit last year,” he tweeted.   

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who was instrumental to Biden winning the South Carolina Democratic primary in the 2020 election, said he has also urged Biden to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court.  

“I have three daughters,” Clyburn told Bloomberg TV in September. “I think I would be less than a good dad if I did not say to the president-to-be, this is an issue that is simmering in the African American community that Black women think they have as much right to sit on the Supreme Court as any other women and up to that point none had been considered.”