It didn’t take long after Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement for conservative politicians and pundits to criticize President Biden’s campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas denounced Biden’s promise as “offensive” while GOP Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi preemptively dismissed the prospective nominee as benefitting from a racially discriminatory “quota.” On Fox News, Sean Hannity slammed Biden’s pledge as “identity politics on steroids.”
but manyastuteanalystspromptlypointed out that Republicans haven’t objected to prior presidents’ pledges to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court. There was no equivalent outcry, for instance, when President Ronald Reagan vowed to appoint the first woman to the Supreme Court during the 1980 presidential campaign — a promise he fulfilled the following year by nominating Sandra Day O’Connor. Nor was their condemnation of former President Donald Trump’s pledge to nominate a woman to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat in September 2020.
As Stanford professor and FiveThirtyEight contributor, Hakeem Jefferson, tweeted, “Conservatives didn’t get upset when Trump promised to nominate a woman to the bench because the qualifier ‘white’ was simply implied.” Hey later added that it’s the misogynoir, or unique biases Black women experiencenot the pledge, that is the problem.
Recent polling data certainly seems to support Jefferson’s argument. Take, for example, Republican responses to the two YouGov polling questions about the importance of nominating a woman and the importance of nominating a Black woman to fill vacated SCOTUS seats in 2020 and 2022, respectively.