Last month, Justice Stephen Breyer announced he would retire from the Supreme Court, giving President Biden an opportunity to name his successor. Biden reminded the world that he pledged during his campaign to nominate a Black woman for the job, and he kept that pledge when he announced on Friday that he has chosen Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee.
Is it just and right to identify the race and gender of a nominee? Or should Biden nominate whomever he decides is the “best” person for the position, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion (and perhaps even political leanings!)?
Here’s what I know:
1. None of us have gotten where we are in life on our own.
Whether it is an official government program like tax breaks on homeownership or a social network that values certain people more than others, we have all been affected by both the legal systems and social structures of our nation. We can’t evaluate anyone solely as an individual.
2. Having a diverse mix of people who represent all sorts of backgrounds benefits us all.
So for Biden to look at the Supreme Court and consider the balance of the whole and not only the qualifications of any particular individual makes sense to me. He is nominating an individual to participate in a group, so the identity of both the individual and the group need to be taken into consideration.
3. Ketanji Brown Jackson (as well as other Black women) has the qualifications and competencies to be a Supreme Court justice.
There are also all sorts of other people with those qualifications and competencies. But since we have never had a Black woman justice, I’m inclined to believe her presence could be particularly valuable for the American people both now and for decades to come.
Read more with Amy Julia:
- In Black History Month, 3 Ways to Change the Racial Wealth Gap
- For Those of Us Who Feel Politically Homeless
- S5 E12 | Racism: Can Learning History Bring Healing? with Lisa Sharon Harper
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