Identity politics looms large in the list of judicial nominees released by the Biden White House today. Can you guess which identity box is focused on like a laser beam on this list? It’s black women. It is as though a call was sent out that only black women will be considered for judicial nominations, with a particular focus on one who may be Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, should the opportunity arise.
Anytime a Democrat begins talking about diversity and the historic nature of decisions, you know what is coming. The Biden administration doesn’t even bother to finesse its blatant sop to a demographic that is responsible for Sleepy Joe’s election. Joe Biden won the presidential election thanks to black Democrat women voters. It began in South Carolina with Biden scoring the endorsement of Rep. James Clyburn, a Democrat powerhouse in that state, and went from there. Black women organized support for Biden and got out the vote for him across the country. Now it’s payback time.
Look, folks, as Biden likes to say, there is nothing wrong with black women as judges. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with their qualifications, either. As Alexandra DeSanctis points out in National Review while diversity and candidates with a variety of life experiences seem to be the main focus, these judges are not at all very diverse. There is a limit to diversity in the professional world. Other than skin color, these nominees are pretty standard choices for receiving a nomination. They all went to top law schools, and their career paths have all gone the same way. All presidents look for the same qualifications.
But the trouble for Biden is that the diversity he’s demonstrated with these selections is only skin deep. Here in the real world, as opposed to identity-politics la la land, there’s only so diverse a field of nominees to federal judge positions can possibly be, especially when it comes to professional experience.
Most of Biden’s eleven selections graduated from the nation’s top law schools, many went on to prestigious clerkships, and nearly all of them spent at least some time working at high-powered law firms or in the government at some point during their careers. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, of course, but it makes it a little harder to stomach the White House’s pablum about how the list of candidates is so diverse that they’re really all just like you and me!
The White House wants you to know that they put this list together at record speed and they are all about using the word “historic”. Instead of reassuring us that the administration is on top of things and ready to fill these appointments, it makes the administration sound insecure and overeager to prove themselves. DeSanctis writes, “In its statement on the topic, the White House also noted that Biden’s announcement makes him the fastest president in modern history to nominate so many judicial candidates: “With respect to Circuit and District Courts, none of the last four administrations had nominated more than two candidates by this point in their presidency.”
What the real rush is, though, is to get as many judicial nominees pushed through the Senate as possible while Democrats run the show. They learned from Mitch McConnell the importance of focusing on judicial nominations and getting them up for a vote to fill vacancies. The Trump administration did a stellar job with McConnell’s expertise to put a record number of conservative judges on the bench during his four years in office. Trump may have gotten off to a slower start than the current administration but he certainly made up for it later. Many of us supported the Republican nominee for president in 2016 against Hillary Clinton because of the judiciary. We were not disappointed in Trump (and McConnell) when it came to putting conservative judges in place.
The nominees include an Asian-American woman and a Pakistani-American man who would be the first Muslim to serve on the federal bench. One nominee, Regina Rodriguez, is the daughter of a Mexican-American father and a Japanese-American mother. She was nominated by Obama but never received consideration in the Senate. The two Democrat senators from Colorado recommended her for the U.S. District Court in Colorado. She has been criticized by Demand Justice, a liberal group, for being a corporate lawyer and former prosecutor. That group wants Biden to appoint more civil rights attorneys and public defenders to the federal bench.
The goal is for Biden to not choose white men for judicial appointments. Trump was criticized by Democrats for his tendency to choose white men, though he chose a white woman for his last Supreme Court nomination. Democrats no longer abide by the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. who spoke of judging people by the content of their character, not their skin color. It is especially rich coming from an old white man that the Democrats chose to run for president in 2020 when the diversity of the Democrat field of candidates was at a high point. The Democrats didn’t even want Kamala Harris so Biden chose her as vice-president in order to clear her path after Biden’s term in office.
Speaking of clearing a path, Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the D.C. Circuit Court. She will fill the vacancy brought about by Merrick Garland. She has been looked upon as someone who is at the top of Biden’s Supreme Court nominee list. This makes her the most high-profile judicial nominee on Biden’s list today. She would fulfill Biden’s promise to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court when the time comes. Obama appointed her to the federal bench in 2013. Her most high-profile ruling was in siding with the House Judiciary Committee and against former White House Counsel Don McGahn during the Trump administration. McGahn was ordered by Trump to not testify before the committee. Judge Jackson ruled he could be forced to testify. That ruling was appealed, though, and is still pending before the D.C. Circuit bench – the one Jackson will join.
Jackson has long been touted in progressive circles as a potential candidate for elevation from her trial court post to an appeals court or even the Supreme Court.
If confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, she will join a bench that is considered the second-highest court in the land and has a long tradition of producing Supreme Court justices, including Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and many others.
Progressives are happy with Biden’s list today and that is what matters.
“President Biden today set a new course to make our courts fairer with judges who will recognize the rights of all of us – not just the wealthy and powerful,” said Lena Zwarensteyn, the fair courts campaign senior director at the liberal Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “We need judges who uphold all of our rights, including those of workers, immigrants, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people; health care access, reproductive freedom, voting rights, and more.”
The identity boxes have been ticked.