President Joe Biden has made great fanfare out of his promise to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court, but Biden’s time in the Senate shows he was not always so concerned with the court’s racial and gender makeup.
Judge Janice Rogers Brown was, in fact, the first black woman to face serious consideration for a SCOTUS nomination, but when President George W. Bush announced she was on his shortlist to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006, Biden threatened a filibuster. (RELATED: Biden ‘Has Not Dodged’ Court Packing Question, Just ‘Not Going To Answer,’ Says Campaign Co-Chairman)
Then-Sen. Biden publicly warned that Brown would face a filibuster if Bush nominated her during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“I can assure you that would be a very, very, very difficult fight and she probably would be filibustered,” he said.
Only one Supreme Court nominee has lost their nomination due to a successful filibuster. That nominee was Associate Justice Abe Fortas, who President Lyndon Johnson nominated to chief justice in 1968, according to Senate records. Chief Justice William Rehnquist also faced a filibuster to his nomination for associate justice in 1971, but it was unsuccessful.
Following Biden’s warning, Bush chose to nominate Samuel Alito, who was confirmed and now serves on the court as an associate justice.
Biden’s statements surrounding his yet unannounced nominee paint a different history of attempts to nominate black women, however.
“The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity,” Biden said in late January. “And that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It’s long overdue in my view. I made that commitment during the campaign for president, and I will keep that commitment.”
The court “should look like the country. It’s long past time,” Biden said on the campaign trail.
It’s time. pic.twitter.com/7MQSZbLNy2
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) February 9, 2022
Democrats more generally have adopted Biden’s language implying a lack of previous attempts to nominate a black woman, frequently using “It’s time” as a slogan surrounding Biden’s nominee.