The Democrat Behind Biden's Pledge to Nominate a Black Woman to Supreme Court

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Posted: Jan 27, 2022 8:00 AM
The Democrat Behind Biden's Pledge to Nominate a Black Woman to Supreme Court

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday the president will stand by his pledge to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court, filling retiring Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat.

That public commitment reportedly came at the behest of Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), whose endorsement Biden needed ahead of the South Carolina primary. 

After having performed poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden needed to win South Carolina in February 2020 if he hoped to have a shot at the Democratic nomination. Clyburn, the House majority whip and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, offered to endorse the faltering candidate but reportedly demanded that he make a public pledge to place a Black woman on the high court.

After having spoken to Biden about it the night before, Clyburn became increasingly frustrated that Biden was neglecting to make the promise from the debate stage on Feb. 25, 2020, according to journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes in their book "Lucky."

During a break in the debate, Clyburn reportedly went backstage to remind Biden of what they discussed.

"So Clyburn gets up from his seat in the debate hall in the audience, and he makes a beeline for the exit," Allen said on the Yahoo News "Skullduggery" podcast last year.

"He says, ‘Look, I told you that I wanted you to say that you were going to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court. You haven’t done it yet. You’ve had a bunch of opportunities. Don’t you dare leave this stage without doing it.’" (Fox News)

Biden obliged, stating that he is “looking forward to making sure there’s a black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure we in fact get everyone represented.”

Clyburn gave him his endorsement the next day.