Graham has changed in many ways since being known as John McCain’s sidekick instead of Donald Trump, but he has been consistent on two things that are dear to his heart. He remains one of the strongest hawks in the Senate. And he is never more conciliatory toward the other side than he is on the subject of Supreme Court candidates, who he believes should be asserted on the basis of qualifications rather than ideology. If a well-qualified Liberal Democrat president nominates, that Liberal would get Graham’s vote.
Case in point: This morning on “Face the Nation” is Kind regards, Judge Michelle Childs South Carolina is his home state. Childs is an African-American and a black-horse contender to be Biden’s choice in SCOTUS thanks to strong lobbying efforts by James Cleburne. I asked Margaret Brennan Graham, “Do you agree with some in your party that Biden is practicing affirmative action by insisting on the nomination of a black woman?”
he did not do. I think he’s right.
“Put me in the camp to make sure the court and other institutions look like America,” Tweet embed He rejects the idea that President Biden’s promise to nominate a black woman for the Supreme Court is an affirmative action, as his fellow Senator Roger Wicker has suggested. pic.twitter.com/KCU6cIFXf9
– FaceTheNation January 30 2022
There are two components to affirmative action that people object to: discrimination on the basis of race And Giving opportunities to less qualified candidates instead of qualified candidates. The second component is missing here, Graham correctly notes. Biden is not going to pull about 1 liter of law school somewhere and put it on court in the name of diversity. He chooses from among eminently qualified black women judges. There is no reason to believe that his choice would be worse than the performance of a white liberal like Stephen Breyer.
Biden is being Discrimination is exercised by limiting his selection to black candidates, and it is painful to see a president in office do so openly. But Graham also has a point when he says it’s not materially different from Reagan’s pledge to put a woman on court, another case for a president briefly eliminating a massive number of eligible contenders based on a biological characteristic. Susan Collins was asked about the Reagan comparison this morning and she drew no difference:
Susan Collins says she is more concerned about Biden declaring that he would choose a black woman than Trump declaring that he would choose a woman because Biden made his announcement when he was a candidate and thus politicized the process. (Remember the superspreader Trump ACB event at WH?) pic.twitter.com/dcCGolAbhx
– Aaron Robar (Atrobar) January 30 2022
For her, it was important that candidate Reagan pledged that women would be so one of His first court picks while nominee Biden vowed (or at least heavily implicitly) that a black woman would be his first picking or picking But… why is this important? Whether Sandra Day O’Connor was chosen to fill the first vacancy during Reagan’s presidency or the second, he would have practiced gender discrimination by insisting on a woman.
And of course, O’Connor I was Reagan’s first pick, not his second, for good reason: The president never knows how many vacancies he’ll have to fill. It must not have been lost on Reagan that his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, served four years without ever having a chance to take a seat at the Scotos. If Reagan wanted to make sure his promise was kept, he would have to nominate a woman as soon as he had the opportunity. So he did. Now Biden is doing the same thing, based on the same reasoning.
This whole debate starts to feel silly when we realize that there would be no controversy if Biden instead said during the campaign, “I firmly pledge, Strongly I considered a black woman in my first Supreme Court appointment “and then winked heavily to stress the point. Presidents routinely weigh identity and diversity politics in selecting SCOTUS candidates, in some cases even when choosing a white man. Given how important black voters and women are to his victory In 2020, it’s easy for Biden to make history by appointing the first black woman justice even if he hasn’t promised to do so. All we’re really arguing about is whether he should keep the polite narrative that contenders are not disqualified for identity-based reasons. And they practiced subtle discrimination rather than overt discrimination, as every president before the civil rights era did in his refusal to vote for an African American in court.
All that said, outright racial discrimination is badass policy. Stay tuned for Jazz’s post about this brutal new poll on ABC later this afternoon.