The Importance of a Black Woman Supreme Court Justice
It’s not because she has to be progressive, it’s because she is an American.
President Joe Biden is expected to keep his promise to choose a Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
Justice Stephen Breyer has announced his retirement. He emphasized in his service that this branch of government is more than crucial, it’s also a bit of a “miracle.” Diversity and perspective matter. He said, “It’s every race, every religion, and every point of view.”
In many minds, the opportunity for a democratic president to appoint is long overdue, now that the conservative side of political control has fallen into Republican hands.
Controversy swirls surrounding women’s rights to healthcare and abortion, voting rights, gun rights, police reform, immigration, social safety net issues, and climate crisis legislation. Polarized positions, and frequent obstructionist politics, and even governmental paralysis has resulted.
Without regard to whether it’s fair, or overdue, or affirmative action, or tokenism, it’s extremely important to appoint a woman.
In this case, a Black woman. If only for the balance of simple perspective itself. If only to ensure people who see their skin color, or gender, represented, whether they are male or female, Black or white, conservative or liberal.
There has never been a Black woman on the supreme court, and although it’s almost irrelevant what her opinions are, this under-represented perspective must be honored.
We should not assume someone is overly conservative or liberal, or overly attempting to seem more hawkish to provide a counterweight to their presumed bias. Hillary Clinton was very pro capitalism, drone strikes, pro-military, and other positions, for example, that made her appear more “manly” and thus stronger in the eyes of many.
Imagine if a Black woman were the default norm. Imagine if Sally Hemmings was considered for her contributions as meaningful as Thomas Jefferson, as literate, as eloquent, or as scientifically proficient.
Sadly, she was never even imagined to be capable of whatever her full potential was.
Nevertheless, Sally Hemmings does represent a true person of history, and her legacy does mean something to many people.
We can show we are able to do better. Choosing a Black woman, shows that we are capable of giving credit where it is due, that we can as a nation, uplift, educate, and offer opportunity to many kinds of people, not just one kind of person. For over two hundred years that default has been white and male.
Even when we appointed the only Black man on the bench, it was a reversal of fortune for those who revered Thurgood Marshall only to see him replaced by the far more conservative Clarence Thomas.
Think of the millions of women and men who believe that Clarence Thomas abused Anita Hill. Whether they are correct or not, they represent a huge groundswell of voters and votes.
To turn that perspective into apathy, or defeatism, would be a great tragedy.
If we are to survive this time period of polarization, and extreme politics, we can’t dismiss that people have divergent perspectives. Despite the words of Senator Mitch McConnell who warns Biden not to appoint someone from the “radical left,” most people do not see the majority of Americans as radical, or even leftist.
We need to be fully open to perspective. We need representative voices from every kind of person, and that must, for the first time include a Black Woman ever on the highest court of the land.