Taking a stand against his party, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham backed President Biden’s decision to appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court on Sunday.
According to the Senate Judiciary Committee member, there is no better candidate than Michelle Childs, a federal judge in the state of South Carolina that is close to his heart.
Graham appeared on CBS News’ Face The Nation and said, ‘Put me in the camp of making sure the court and other institutions look like America. You know, we make a real effort as Republicans to recruit women and people of color to make the party look more like America.’
With Graham’s support, Childs may now be on Biden’s shortlist, where she already appears to be a frontrunner. With powerful Democratic House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn already raising her case publicly, the 55-year-old judge stands to benefit from strong bipartisan support.
As Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement last week, Biden got to work fulfilling his campaign promise of the first black female justice. Breyer is the oldest member of the bench at 83 years old.
Lawmakers on the Republican side seized upon the news immediately, accusing Democrats of playing identity politics. Last week, Senator Roger Wicker denounced Biden’s pledge as an ‘affirmative action quota pick,’ and Senator Susan Collins accused the White House of ‘politicizing’ the nomination process.
Graham, however, defended Childs’ credentials and reiterated his long-held belief that presidents should be given more latitude when it comes to nominating.
‘Affirmative action is picking somebody not as well qualified for past wrongs. Michelle Childs is incredibly qualified. There’s no affirmative action component if you pick her,’ he said.
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 30, 2022
‘Whether you like it or not, Biden said, “I’m going to pick an African American woman to serve on the Supreme Court.” I believe there are plenty of qualified African American women, conservative and liberal, that could go onto the court.’
‘So I don’t concede- I don’t see Michelle Childs as an act of affirmative action. I do see putting a black woman on the court, making the court more like America.’
Richard Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Meet The Press that the nominee could be confirmed as early as April.
In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, he said that the speed of the confirmation would ‘depend on the nominee.’
‘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, and it was Donald Trump who announced that he was going to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a woman nominee as well,’ Durbin said, referring to Trump’s third appointment to the high court, Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
‘So this is not the first time that a president has signaled what they’re looking for in a nominee.’
Black women who reach the level of consideration for the high court have ‘done it against great odds,’ according to Durbin.
‘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,’ he said.
‘They’re all going to face the same close scrutiny. This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, and I just hope that those who are critical of the president’s selection aren’t doing it for personal reasons.’
Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein also defended Biden’s decision to appoint a black woman to the bench in another television interview on ABC. A recent poll showed Americans are more interested in getting the best-qualified candidate for the job.
Breyer, 83, announced his retirement last week after mounting pressure to step down from the bench so Biden could name a younger liberal to replace him.
As part of his campaign promise, the president said he would nominate the first black female justice.
Whoever Biden selects will have to testify in front of Durbin’s panel for what is sure to be an up-close and personal discussion.
Susan Collins, a moderate Republican senator who is not on the committee but will vote on whether the appointment is confirmed with her colleagues in the upper chamber, said she welcomed having a black woman on the court but alleged Biden was ‘politicizing’ the process.
‘I believe that diversity benefits the Supreme Court,’ Collins said to ABC’sGeorge Stephanopoulos.
‘But the way that the president has handled this nomination has been clumsy at best. It adds to the further perception that the court is a political institution like Congress when it is not supposed to be.’
Pressed by @GStephanopoulos on how Pres. Biden's handling of a Supreme Court nomination is different from his predecessors, @SenatorCollins says his campaign vow to nominate a Black woman "helped politicize the entire nomination process." https://t.co/vFmbrUjjxI pic.twitter.com/tPxXWQk6X4
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 30, 2022
Durbin’s comparison of Biden’s selection process to Reagan’s appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor caused her to take offense.
‘Actually, this isn’t exactly the same. I’ve looked at what was done in both cases. And what President Biden did was as a candidate, make this pledge. And that helped politicize the entire nomination process.
‘What President Reagan said is, as one of his Supreme Court justices, he would like to appoint a woman. And he appointed a highly qualified one in Sandra Day O’Connor.’
According to an ABC News/Ipsos poll released on Sunday, the vast majority of Americans are on their side.
As reported in the survey, 76 percent of respondents said they want Biden to ‘consider all possible nominees’ as opposed to just 23 percent who want him to ‘consider only nominees who are Black women, as he has pledged to do.’