Former Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard Monday criticized President Biden for promising to choose a Supreme Court nominee who is a Black woman, saying such a move is harmful “identity politics.”
“Biden chose Harris as his VP because of the color of her skin and sex—not qualification. She’s been a disaster,” Gabbard said early Monday morning. “Now he promises to choose Supreme Court nominee on the same criteria. Identity politics is destroying our country.”
Biden promised on the campaign trail that he would nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, a promise he doubled down on when Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement last week.
The president also said he would pick a woman vice president, and his search was led by several Black women including Harris – who has been harshly criticized for her job performance by both parties. Other names that were seriously floated to be Biden’s running mate were former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.
Progressives lauded Biden last week for holding himself to the promise to nominate a Black woman. Some conservatives, meanwhile, criticized him for narrowing his field of qualified nominees – sometimes resulting in harsh backlash from liberal activists – while others said Biden’s promise is simply not fair.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., called the president’s pledge “affirmative racial discrimination.”
Democrats defending Biden’s search criteria note that former president Ronald Reagan said he would probably nominate a woman to the court and former President Donald Trump explicitly said he would nominate a woman after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also appeared to defend Biden’s move on “Meet the Press” Sunday.
“Put me in the camp of making sure that the court and other institutions look like America,” he said. “You know we make a real effort as Republicans to recruit women and people of color to make the party look more like America.”
Graham added: “Affirmative action is picking somebody not as well qualified for past wrongs. Michelle Childs is incredibly qualified. There’s no affirmative action component if you pick her.”
Childs, a Black woman, is a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina and currently a nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Graham and House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., are both vocal supporters of hers. In a potential nod to how seriously the White House is considering her for the Supreme Court vacancy, the Senate Judiciary Committee postponed a Tuesday hearing it had scheduled for Childs’ circuit court nomination.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last week also emphasized that the White House will heavily weigh potential nominees’ qualifications.
“The president’s intention is to consult with members of both parties, and his intention is to nominate a qualified candidate … who is worthy of the excellence and decency of Breyer’s legacy,” she said.
Biden said he plans to choose his Supreme Court nominee by the end of February.