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Lindsey Graham Says Biden Nominating a Black Woman to SCOTUS Would Not Be a Case of Affirmative Action

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Sunday pushed back against some of his Republican colleagues' claims that President Joe Biden's pledge to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court is an example of affirmative action, saying instead that he favors making the bench "look like America."


Biden said Thursday he would nominate a black woman to the bench after Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced his plans to retire, reiterating comments he made as a presidential candidate during a Democratic primary debate in early 2020.

Graham said during an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation" that selecting qualified people of color to serve in American institutions is not the same as picking someone purely based on their race.

"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. Affirmative action is picking somebody not as well qualified for past wrongs," Graham explained.

This comes after Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker said in an interview last week that Biden's Supreme Court nominee would be a "beneficiary" of affirmative action and an ironic pick given the court's recent decision to hear two affirmative action cases involving college admissions.

Graham also expressed during his Sunday interview that he is a "big admirer" of South Carolina U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs. The White House confirmed that Childs is among those the president is considering for the Supreme Court vacancy.

"Michelle Childs is incredibly qualified," Graham said. "There's no affirmative action component if you pick her she is highly qualified."

He also pointed out that he does not believe there is a difference between Biden's promise to pick a black woman for the Supreme Court and former President Ronald Reagan's pledge to select a woman but reiterated his stance that nominating Childs or another black woman to the bench is not affirmative action. Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court in 1981, fulfilling his campaign promise to appoint the first woman to the high court.


"President Reagan said running for office that he wanted to put the first female on the court," Graham said. "Whether you like it or not, Joe 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."

"I don't see Michelle Childs as an act of affirmative action," he continued. "I do see putting a black woman on the court, making the court more like America. In the history of our country, we've only had five women serve and two African-American men, so let's make the court more like America. But qualifications have to be the biggest consideration."

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