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'They're Extraordinary People': Dick Durbin Defends Biden's Promise to Nominate Black Woman to Supreme Court

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill) on Sunday defended President Joe Biden for vowing to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court, and pointed to previous presidents who made similar declarations.

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In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week," Durbin was asked about criticisms of Biden's pledge coming from the GOP. 

The ABC anchor highlighted comments from two Republicans criticizing the president's promise. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley shared a tweet Wednesday saying that the president should choose a nominee based on qualifications without considering race or gender, and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker said in an interview Friday that the nominee will be a "beneficiary" of affirmative action.

But Durbin noted that Biden's promise to pick a black woman for the bench "is not the first time that a president has signaled what they are looking for in a nominee," referring to former President Ronald Reagan's (R) pledge during his 1980 campaign that he would nominate a woman and former President Donald Trump (R) saying he would select a woman to replace late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg following her death in 2020.

"I'd remind them to take a look back at history and recall that it was Ronald Reagan who announced that he was going to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court, and he did, Sandra Day O'Connor, and it was Donald Trump who announced that he was going to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a woman nominee as well," Durbin said. "So this is not the first time that a president has signaled what they're looking for in a nominee."

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"And I would just say the bottom line is this in terms of African American women. If they have achieved the level of success in practice of law and jurisprudence, they've done it against great odds. They're extraordinary people," he continued.

Biden said during a Democratic primary debate in early 2020 that he would nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court if an opportunity to fill a seat were to arise. And after Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced last week his plans to retire, the president reaffirmed his promise.

But a Sunday ABC News/Ipsos poll revealed that 76 percent of Americans want Biden to consider "all possible nominees" compared to just 23 percent who support his decision to only consider black women.

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