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Tipsheet

Collins Says Biden's Campaign Promise to Pick Black Woman for SCOTUS 'Helped Politicize' Nomination Process

Greg Nash/Pool via AP

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Sunday that President Joe Biden "helped politicize" the Supreme Court nomination process when he said as a candidate in 2020 that he would select a black woman to fill a vacancy on the bench should one arise.

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Biden said during a Democratic primary debate in early 2020 that he would nominate the first black woman to the Supreme Court and, after Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced last week his plans to retire, the president reaffirmed his pledge to select a black woman for the highest court in the land.

During an appearance on ABC's "This Week," Collins explained to host George Stephanopoulos that she would "welcome the appointment of a black female to the court" but that the president's handling of the nomination has been "clumsy at best."

"It adds to the further perception that the court is a political institution like Congress when it is not supposed to be," she said. "So, I certainly am open to whomever he decides to nominate. My job as a senator is to evaluate the qualifications of that person under the advice and consent role."

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Stephanopoulos then pressed the moderate GOP senator on the difference between Biden's promise and pledges made by former Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump to nominate female justices to the high court. Reagan pledged during his 1980 presidential campaign to nominate a woman to the bench and Trump vowed to appoint a woman to replace late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg following her death in 2020.

But Collins claimed that Biden's declaration "isn't exactly the same."

"I've looked at what was done in both cases," Collins said. "And what President Biden did was as a candidate, make this pledge. And that helped politicize the entire nomination process. What President Reagan said is, as one of his Supreme Court justices, he would like to appoint a woman. And he appointed a highly qualified one in Sandra Day O'Connor."

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