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Thursday, Feb. 29
The Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices politics

Black Voices: A Black Woman may be the next Supreme Court Justice


Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer announced his retirement on Jan. 27, creating a vacancy within the Court.

Since the announcement, conversations have already begun to determine who the next Supreme Court Justice will be.

President Joe Biden is now tasked with filling this vacancy within the court and has the power to make history.

At the top of the leaderboard are three qualified Black women. Ketanji Brown Jackson, Leondra Kruger and J. Michelle Childs are all being considered to take the place of Justice Breyer.

As a former clerk for Justice Breyer and current judge for the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, Ketanji Brown Jackson has spent her legal career working in criminal justice reform. Judge Jackson is a graduate of Harvard University and Law School.

A current Associate Justice for the California Supreme Court, Leondra Kruger has argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and has a diverse background in the types of cases she has encountered. Judge Kruger is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School.

A recent nominee of the U.S. Court of Appeals, J. Michelle Childs has presided over around 5,000 court cases and was the first Black woman to make partner within nine years at a major law firm. Childs is a graduate of the University of South Florida, University of South Carolina and Duke University School of Law.

If one of these women is nominated, it will be the first time in U.S. history a Black woman will sit on the highest court in the nation.

IU political science Ph.D. candidate Donovan A. Watts said having a Black woman on the Supreme Court will be extremely important.

“Being able to have a Black woman on the Supreme Court will be very important to me because it shows the representation the Supreme Court has lacked since its inception,” Watts said.

However, this will not be the first time a Black woman has been represented in a federal-level court, as Constance Baker Motley became the first appointed to the federal judiciary in 1966.

While this historical achievement was monumental for Black history, some might say having a Black woman on the Supreme Court is long overdue.

“I do believe this has taken too long, but I also believe now is the right time,” Watts said. “Timing is everything and I do believe this is the right time for us to have the first Black, female Supreme Court Justice.”

Out of the 113 justices, the Supreme Court has only had three people of color and four women represented since its inception. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the first woman of color to be nominated and confirmed for the Supreme Court in 2009.

“Biden, particularly among Black voters, is not doing too well in the polls,” Watts said. “Biden can definitely use this time as a tool to motivate Black voters to realize he stands with the Black community.”

Because Biden relied so heavily on the Black vote in the previous election, Watts said nominating a Black woman candidate will help his reliance come full circle.

Making history within the U.S. is not something everyone will act out in their lifetime, but Biden must realize this importance.

Black women are leading the candidacy for the Supreme Court and the U.S. has a great chance to make history.

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