Senate Judiciary chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Sunday pushed back on Republicans’ go-to strategy of preemptively casting President Biden’s not-yet-existent Supreme Court nominee as an unqualified individual who only got the job because she’s a Black woman. The President has reaffirmed his commitment to nominating a Black woman to the Court, but has not announced a nominee thus far.
Shortly after news of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement broke last week, some Republicans were quick to paint the President’s yet-to-be-announced nominee to replace Breyer as someone who is part of the “Radical Left.”
One example of such an argument raised during Durbin’s interview on ABC News was that of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who told a local radio network that a Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court would be a “beneficiary” of affirmative action.
Durbin swiftly called out Republicans by pointing out that it’s not unusual for presidents, including those in the GOP, to announce demographic criteria for who they intend to nominate to the Supreme Court.
“I’d remind them to take a look back at history and recall that it was Ronald Reagan who announced that he was going to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court, and he did — Sandra Day O’Connor,” Durbin said. “And it was Donald Trump who announced that he was going to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a woman nominee as well. So this is not the first time that a president has signaled what they’re looking for in a nominee.”
Durbin also highlighted the significance of nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court.
“The bottom line is this in terms of African American women: if they have achieved the level of success in the practice of law and jurisprudence, they’ve done it against great odds,” Durbin said. “They’re extraordinary people — usually the first of anything in the United States turns out to be extraordinary in their background. And the same is true there.”
Durbin emphasized that Biden’s nominee will “face the same close scrutiny” that others appointed to the Court have.
“This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land,” Durbin said. “And I just hope that those who are critical of the President’s selection aren’t doing it for personal reasons.”
Breyer’s retirement announcement comes after Democrats had been calling on the liberal justice to step down while the party holds the majority in both chambers of Congress. Democrats signaled their concerns over a potential repeat of what happened with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who refused to retire when Democrats had control and was ultimately replaced by conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Internal preparations within the White House are reportedly ramping up for a swift selection process for Breyer’s replacement, according to NBC News. The White House isn’t expect to name any names until sometime next month.
Watch Durbin’s remarks below: