Black women in the White House. Black women on U.S. coins. Black women in the U.S. Supreme Court? — Yes. Yes. And yes, please!
When news that Justice Stephen Breyer would soon retire from the Supreme Court broke Wednesday morning, most of the focus was on whether President Biden would make good on his pledge to fill the opening by naming the first Black woman to the high court.
By Thursday afternoon, Biden made it clear he would, saying “I will nominate someone with extraordinary qualifications, charity, experience and integrity, and that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.”
Biden said though he hadn’t made “a choice at this point,” the nomination of a Black woman Supreme Court justice was “long overdue.” He’s not wrong.
“[The nomination] is a positive step toward making the law more inclusive of an America that is and continues to become more diverse,” says Shane Gleason, an associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, whose work focuses on the roles sex and gender play in shaping substantive outcomes at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gleason said it’s important for Supreme Court justices to reflect the population they serve and says a failure to do so can have dire consequences for the legitimacy of the institution as well as for the parties who come before it.
For instance, Gleason said, pointing to a 2009 case in which the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether
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