A Black woman on the Supreme Court; it’s about time


PATRICK SEMANSKY | AP PHOTO Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., center, speaks with reporters to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy, Feb. 10, 2022, at the White House.

President Joe Biden ran (and arguably won South Carolina) on the premise of nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court, should he get the chance. In late January, Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement after 27 years. With this vacancy, Biden has confirmed his promise will come to fruition.

Opposition to Biden’s promise has sparked from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. He called it offensive, considering Black women make up 6 percent of the total U.S. population. “He’s saying to 94 percent of Americans — I don’t give a damn about you,” Cruz said.

He continued to spew that this decision is an insult to the Black woman to be nominated, insinuating that she would only be nominated for her race and gender.

To have a qualified pool of nominees, there must be a significant number of experienced people in the judicial system. The first law school to admit a Black student was University of North Carolina in 1951. Black people have been licensed attorneys for less than 70 years. Cruz’s assertion that race and gender are the sole qualifications of this nominee bolsters a narrative that made these careers inaccessible to Black women in the first place: that Black women are not capable to hold such a position.

Biden’s promise corrects this narrative. His promise is a promise of justice, and not only to American constituents.

Cruz must have forgotten that his beloved Ronald Reagan made a similar promise during his presidency when nominating the first woman to the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Cruz said back in 2015 during his short-lived presidential campaign that he hoped to emulate Reagan during his political career. What changed, Ted?

Reagan knew back then that it was time for the Supreme Court to represent the people. Today, it is just as true. Susan Burgess, political science professor at DePaul, says Biden’s promise is not unusual.

“There are different categories that presidents think of when they construct lists of nominees,” Burgess said. “Representational qualities are one of those.”

Wanting the Supreme Court to not be mindful of its own demographics would be to uphold America’s racist history. Refusing to see race is also a refusal to discuss race. Representation matters, especially in high-profile and powerful positions.

Ambresha Faulk, a political science student at DePaul, says they are wary of what a Black woman on the Court would mean.

“It concerns me because of the weight that is put on Black women to ‘fix everything’ themselves,” Faulk said. Too often are issues of racism pointed towards Black women and the Black community to solve, and Faulk is concerned that this will be heightened on the Supreme Court.

Often felt left out of politics, Faulk agreed that, “it’s time, and it’s necessary.”

I grew up watching Ruth Bader Ginsburg unapologetically destroy conservative men with her words. I knew what women who looked like me were capable of. As a student of political science, I read her dissents often, and usually with teary eyes. That could be me.

As a white woman, I am privileged to have this reinforcement. I am reminded of my potential when I look at all the white women who have come before me.

There have been two Black men on the Supreme Court, which has undoubtedly been a step in the right direction in constituency representation. But only a Black woman can accurately represent the double burden of racism and sexism that Black women are faced with. Black women deserve a voice. Black women deserve to feel how I felt when seeing RBG on the news.

Old, white men have been on the Supreme Court since its founding. They have been making the most important decisions in America all this time — it’s time for a change.