Jan. 31, 2022

Why It's Time for a Black Woman on the Supreme Court

Why It's Time for a Black Woman on the Supreme Court

On this episode of Intelligence Is Dope, I’ll be discussing the significance and importance of nominating and appointing a Black Woman to the Supreme Court.

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Transcript

Episode 26 Why It's Time for a Black Woman on the Supreme Court

Elly: [00:00:00] Last week, Supreme Court Justice, Stephen Barr announced his retirement. And whether this decision came from political persuasion or the justice just felt, it was says, time. The 80 three-year-old justice has given President Biden and the Democrats an opportunity to actually get some form of a win with this happening earlier in President Biden's term.

If the Democrats can actually come together on this. President Biden will have the opportunity to appoint a justice. And if the President can get this through Congress, this will be a historical appointment. As a Black woman will have an opportunity to be appointed to the Supreme Court I'm Elly, and on this episode of Intelligence is Dope.

I'm going to be talking about why it's time for a Black woman to be seated on the high court. And why this appointment impacts so much more than just court decisions.[00:01:00] 

Let me just start with a very brief history of the Supreme Court. The Judiciary Act of 1789 was passed by Congress, which established the Supreme Court of the United States as a tribunal made up of, at the time, six justices who were to serve on the court until death or retirement. President George Washington nominated all six justices with John Jay presiding as the Chief Justice and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair.

Robert Harrison and James Wilson, serving as associate justices. On September 26 of that same year, all [00:02:00] six appointments were confirmed by Congress. The Supreme Court is given its authority through Article Three of the US Constitution, which essentially gives the court ultimate jurisdiction over all laws, particularly those in which their constitutionality was an issue.

And on February 1st, 1790, the first session of the Supreme Court was held in New York City. In the 233 year history of the Supreme Court, there have been a 115 justices. All, but seven have been white men. Now think about that. The court that is making the decision on case law in a country that is so diverse is one of the most least diverse entities within the government.

On June 13th, 1967, President Lyndon B Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall to become the first African-American Supreme Court [00:03:00] Justice. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to become the first female justice. In 1991, Justice Marshall retires and George H W Bush nominates Clarence Thomas to become the second Black man to become a Supreme Court Justice.

Now we can get into a whole debate about the optics of just replacing one Black man with another Black man. But that's for another episode. Then in 1993, President Bill Clinton nominates Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Then President Barack Obama nominated two women. In 2009, he nominated Sonia Sotomayor who would become the first Hispanic Justice of the Supreme Court.

And in 2010, Elena Kagan. And in 2020 President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett. That's it people. That's all the diversity of the high court. [00:04:00] The court that makes so many decisions that affects so many segments of this country's population, like school segregation, religious belief, same sex marriage, or women's abortion rights, which there is a huge landmark case coming from Mississippi that the court will be ruling on later this year.

So when I hear the argument that a President shouldn't be nominating a justice based on race or sex, I wholeheartedly disagree because a court that is making a decision for all people in this country should do its best to be representative of all people in this country. So why now? I think that many of us can agree that for generations, Black women have experienced extreme levels of bias and under-representation.

And when you look at the type of cases that the Supreme Court is making decisions on, you're [00:05:00] looking at generally men, until more recent, make decisions that impact women and many of these decisions have the worst impact on Black women specific. According to the American Bar Association, only a third of attorneys are female and less than 5% of that are Black.

Only 3% of sitting judges are Black women. Now one of the lesser known wins for President Biden is that last summer he had a historical run of Black women who would be nominated and appointed by Senate to the U S Court of Appeals. But before then it was a decade since the last Black woman was even nominated for the Appeals Circuit.

Now I'm hearing talks of qualifications and do any of the possible Black women candidates even qualify. How ludicrous of a statement when we watched Justice Amy Coney Barrett in almost record time, 30 days be [00:06:00] nominated and appointed to the Supreme Court in 2020. Now, let me say this isn't so pit women against women or minority against minority, but I want to touch on some experience here.

Let's start with Chief Justice John Roberts. Now he's argued over 39 cases before the Supreme Court, but he was an US Court of Appeal Judge for less than two years before going to the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas, a little over a year. Justice Briar had 14 years as a judge before going to the Supreme Court.

Now from the rhetoric that I've been seeing, that's the standard, they want these Black women to be on. But let me continue. Justice Samuel Alito was a judge for 15 years. Justice Sonia Sotomayer was two years as a judge. Justice Elena Kagan was never a judge. Justice Neil Gorsuch, 11 years. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, [00:07:00] 12 years. Justice Amy Coney Barrett around three years.

I mentioned all of their experience because there are so many other factors than just being an appeal judge that goes into being a Supreme Court Justice. But when it comes to Black women, the nitpicking that is happening over if they are qualified for the high court is insane. When there is so much diverse experience that is displayed.

So let's quickly talk about some of the possible nominees for the Supreme Court. You have Ninth Circuit Appeals, Judge Holly Thomas. Federal Circuit Court, Judge Tiffany P. Cunningham. Civil Rights attorney and 11th Circuit Court candidate, Nancy Abudu. Third Circuit Court of Appeals nominee, Ariana J Freeman.

NYU law professor Melissa Murray. Seventh Circuit Judge Candice [00:08:00] Jackson-Akiwumi. District Judge Mimi Wright. North Carolina Supreme Court Justice, Anita Earls. Second Circuit, Judge Eunice Lee. And Sherrilyn Ifill, who was just the President and Director and Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational fund.

And when we get to the rumored at short list and all of this is rumor but, more than likely the top three candidates for this position. Judge J Michelle Childs. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. And California Supreme Court Justice, Leondra Kruger. These three women's resumes could rival any current justices resume. I know people have a hard time understanding this before.

Any of these black women that I've named. And I purposely said each of their names. They more than likely had to [00:09:00] work twice as hard and be twice as good to get to the positions that they have now. When we look at the intersectionality of these women of not only being women, but being Black women, it's a double negative that the majority of us can not understand.

The people arguing this simply don't want change or inclusion. Anytime that, an exclude group is included. It is better for the institution as a whole and its credibility. And a selection of Black women does not change the balance of the court. We can't make any assumptions about how they would rule.

I mean, look at Justice Clarence Thomas. It always hurts me that he was the justice to replace an icon in Thurgood Marshall. But it's about the hope that it gives. I may not have known much about the Supreme Court growing up, but I understood who Thurgood Marshall was. I understood the [00:10:00] value and importance that he had to Black people and how his life bettered mine.

So with this nomination and hopefully appointment that same sense of pride can be spread amongst little Black girls and all children across the country. I mean, we witnessed it with President Obama, but unlike the presidential seat, the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment. So much more time to really make impact.

Now, Black girls and Black women can have a sense of pride and hope. The familiarity of having someone who looks like you and more than likely have been through the same experiences as you. Now can advocate for you in the highest court of the land. Thank you for listening to another episode of Intelligence is Dope.

As we continue to grow this platform, don't forget to like, subscribe, and comment. And as always [00:11:00] don't judge the story by the chapter you walked in on, Peace.