The Columbus Dispatch

Racial divide exposed in Supreme Court vacancy

Biden says pick of Black woman ‘long overdue’

- Chris Megerian

WASHINGTON – Americans are starkly divided by race on the importance of President Joe Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, with white Americans far less likely to be highly enthusiast­ic about the idea than Black Americans – and especially Black women.

That’s according to a poll from The Associated PRESS-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that shows 48% of Americans say it’s not important to them personally that a Black woman becomes a Supreme Court justice. Another 23% say that’s somewhat important, and 29% say it’s very or extremely important. Only two Black men have served on the nation’s highest court, and no Black women have ever been nominated.

The poll shows Biden’s pledge is resonating with Black Americans, 63% of whom say it’s very or extremely important to them personally that a Black woman serves on the court, compared with just 21% of white Americans and 33% of Hispanics. The findings come as Biden finalizes his pick to fill the seat that is being vacated by Stephen Breyer.

“While I’ve been studying candidates’ background­s and writings, I’ve made no decisions except one: The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordin­ary qualificat­ions, character, experience and integrity, and that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court,” Biden said.

“It’s long overdue, in my view.”

Black women are particular­ly moved by the idea, with 70% placing high importance on the nomination, compared to 54% of Black men.

Diana White, 76, a Democrat from Hanley Hills, Missouri, said Biden wouldn’t choose someone if “she didn’t have the potential and the profession­alism and the knowledge to do the job.”

White, who is Black, said making a groundbrea­king nomination could be inspiratio­nal to younger people.

Any enthusiasm that could be generated by Biden’s nomination could benefit his party in this year’s midterm elections. So far Biden has struggled to deliver on other goals for the Black community, such as police reform legislatio­n and changes to voting rules.

Some 91% of Black voters backed Biden in the 2020 presidenti­al election,

according to AP Votecast, an expansive survey of the electorate.

But recent polls suggest Biden’s approval rating has dipped substantia­lly among Black Americans since the first half of 2021, when about 9 in 10 approved of how he was handling his job. The new poll shows that his approval among Black Americans stands at 67%.

Biden promised to choose a Black woman for the Supreme Court when he was running for president. According to a person familiar with the process, he has interviewe­d at least three candidates for the position, and he’s expected to announce his decision next week.

The poll shows that most Democrats say a Black woman on the court is at least somewhat important, though only half think it’s very important. Among Republican­s, about 8 in 10 say it’s not important.

 ?? MARIAM ZUHAIB/AP ?? Only two Black men have served on the nation’s highest court, and no Black women have ever been nominated.
MARIAM ZUHAIB/AP Only two Black men have served on the nation’s highest court, and no Black women have ever been nominated.

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