North Texas Daily

New Supreme Court nominee represents need for diversity in US

New Supreme Court nominee represents need for diversity in US

New Supreme Court nominee represents need for diversity in US
March 03
14:36 2022

President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nomination following Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation brings along with it a sense of unease. With current Justice Stephen Breyer set to retire at the end of the 2021-2022 term, Biden bears the responsibility of finding a suitable successor for him. On Feb. 25, the president solidified his decision in nominating Ketanji Brown Jackson. If confirmed by the Senate, Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

In his four years, former President Donald Trump appointed three justices in an attempt to further his agenda by shifting the Court closer to the far right. After nearly three decades on the court, Breyer’s retirement comes at a perfect time. Unlike Trump, this opening allows Biden to replace Breyer with a like-minded individual such as Jackson. The focus for Biden’s nomination instead lies with diversifying the court as opposed to further politicizing it.

Generally, appointed justices reflect the sitting president’s ideology. Trump’s judge appointments — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney-Barrett — have transformed the court into a 6-3 conservative majority.

Trump’s impactful restructuring of the court will have a long-lasting effect and pose a challenge to President Biden and possibly any future Democratic presidents. However, Biden’s choice, if confirmed, will maintain the current court structure.

President Biden owes a great deal to his constituents after the contentious 2020 election. As a key demographic in the Democratic voting bloc, Biden’s campaign promise made to Black women is all but finalized. While Biden’s approval rating faces record lows, his fulfillment of the promise to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court comes at the perfect time in his presidency.

With all three front-runners for the soon-to-be-vacated seat being Black women, President Biden made it clear who he intends to replace Justice Breyer. Judge Jackson, as the official nominee, is characterized by her similarities to the former — most notably serving as his clerk.

Currently sitting in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Washington, D.C. circuit, Judge Jackson’s ideology has yet to be pinned down due to her lack of precedence over hot-button cases. However, most in the political community are assuming that Jackson will almost perfectly align with the stances taken by Breyer.

The Supreme Court has poorly reflected the demographics and diversity of the U.S. population. Currently, only three women and two people of color occupy the court. Meanwhile, the 2021 U.S. Census showcases 50.8 percent of the U.S. population as female and 39.9 percent as people of color. With Jackson’s nomination and potential appointment, the Supreme Court would be comprised of four women and three people of color. While this does not perfectly align with the proportions of the U.S. population, it would make strides at achieving that goal. 

Given that Supreme Court justices serve indefinitely under life tenure and do not undergo the stress of reelection, justices are protected from outside influences. While they must read the law and come to an unbiased consensus as a united front on any given case, many matters that arrive at the Supreme Court are not relative to many of the identities serving on the Court.

Jackson’s nomination and potential appointment will stand for more than a first. Her addition to the court will bring about a missing perspective that is far more reflective of the people. In a time where the court is frequently presiding over cases that affect society regarding social aspects, it is quintessential that Biden introduces someone that represents those who are most affected by these decisions.

Biden’s choice to prioritize furthering diversity in the court may not have been the most politically advantageous move. Following Trump’s hyper-politicization and “packing” of the court in his nominations, Breyer’s retirement offers progressives the opportunity to counter Trump’s actions. However, this would perpetuate a harmful incentive to further divide the Supreme Court. Considering this, while an opportunity for political gain has seemingly come and gone for progressives, the need for diversity within the Court has been 232 years in the making.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Migchalee Gonzalez

Migchalee Gonzalez

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