December 1, 2023

History in the making

By: Roy Douglas Malonson

Civil Rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13, 1967, making him the first African American to ever serve on the Supreme Court. Marshall had already achieved so much in the cases he had defended in front of the Supreme Court as he won 29 of the 32 cases he argued. One of the historical cases he was known for was the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954. This case ruled that segregation in schools was unconstitutional. While on the Supreme Court, Marshall, continued his fight to protect those against discrimination. He served 24 years on the Supreme Court and retired in 1991. Marshall died on January 24, 1993.

Now, President Joe Biden has the opportunity to nominate a person to the Supreme Court Justice, and he wants to give that nomination to a Black woman. Some people are happy that a Black woman will have an opportunity to serve. However, there are some people who are upset that Biden has already declared who he wants to sit on the highest court in America.

One of these “nay-sayers” is Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz was very vocal in expressing his opinions about Biden’s promise. On an episode of his podcast, “Verdict with Ted Cruz,” he said, “The fact that he’s willing to make a promise at the outset, that it must be a Black woman, I gotta say that’s offensive. You know, you know Black women are what, 6% of the US population? He’s saying to 94% of Americans, ‘I don’t give a damn about you, you are ineligible.”

He further commented, “And he’s also saying — it’s actually an insult to Black women. If he came and said, ‘I’m gonna put the best jurist on the court and he looked at a number of people and he ended up nominating a Black woman, he could credibly say, ‘OK I’m nominating the person who’s most qualified.’ He’s not even pretending to say that he’s saying, ‘If you’re a White guy, tough luck. If you’re a White woman, tough luck. You don’t qualify.'”

Why can’t a Black woman serve on the Supreme Court? More importantly, why has it taken so long for a Black woman to even be considered? These are the questions that we should be asking.

The Supreme Court began to take form with the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789 and held their first assembly in 1790. In the 232 years the Supreme Court has existed, there has never been a Black woman to serve. There have been 113 Supreme Court Justices to serve on the Supreme Court. Out of that total, 107 have been white men, two have been Black men, and there have been four women. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the first and only Hispanic justice in history. This is a problem.

It is hard to understand how Cruz is “offended” by this gesture from President Biden. How can he be offended by the 107 white men who have had an opportunity to serve? If anything, Black people, specifically, Black women should be offended by the statistics. The statistics pretty much say, “I don’t give a damn about Black women.”

More diversity is needed on the Supreme Court. It is sad that Black people in 2022 are still making history. It is sad that Black people are still fighting against racism and discrimination. It is sad that Black people do not have the same rights and opportunities as other races. The time is now to make change!

The potential nominees who are on the observers’ short list include Ketanji Brown Jackson, Leondra Kruger, and J. Michelle Childs. There are other names that have been mentioned, such as Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright, Eunice Lee, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, Anita Earls, Holly A. Thomas, Tiffany P. Cunningham, Arianna Freeman, Melissa Murray, and Sherrilyn Ifill. If President Biden delivers on his promise, one of these women will be the first African American woman to serve on the Supreme Court Justice! Long overdue. Time to make history – again.


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