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Tipsheet

Bill Maher Claims GOP 'Would Be Thrilled' to Have No Black Justices on Supreme Court

Janet Van Ham/HBO via AP

TV show host and comedian Bill Maher has scored plenty of points lately for his calling out of cancel culture and ridiculous wokeness, but every now and then he reminds us that he's still a liberal. During Friday's episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher," the host took a dig at Republicans, claiming that "today's Republicans...would be thrilled to have no black seats on the court," though he clarified "okay, a lot of them."

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Maher also provided some historical context, between "today's Republicans" and when Clarence Thomas was nominated in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush to replace Justice Thurgood Marshall after he died. Marshall had been the first Black justice to serve on the Court, nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967.

"We have the first Black woman… The first Black we ever had - we've only had two, Thurgood Marshall, 1967. When he died, it was George Bush, the first, was president. And so they accepted the idea that there was now a Black seat on the court and that's how we got to Clarence Thomas," Maher said during Friday night's panel discussion. "Now, I thought it was not exactly cricket to give the Black seat to somebody who didn't represent the majority of Black thinking in America, but here's the difference, at least they accepted, George Bush did, the idea of at least one Black seat on the court."

In making such points, Maher treats "Black thinking in America" as a monolith. He also undermines that admiration that Republicans, including "today's Republicans" have for Justice Thomas.

Quoted retweets and replies to Fox News' Twitter account sharing a piece from Joseph A. Wulfsohn about the segment pointed out as much.

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Last October, the Heritage Foundation, a conservative organization, honored Justice Thomas' 30 years of service on the Supreme Court, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) giving remarks as well.

It was then Sen. Joe Biden who chaired the Senate Committee Judiciary Committee hearings when Thomas was being considered for the Supreme Court, with his handling having been heavily criticized.

By nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill retiring Justice Stephen Breyer's seat, President Biden was fulfilling a campaign promise to nominate the first Black woman justice to the Supreme Court. Polls showed though that Americans did not want Biden to limit his criteria for selecting a qualified justice in such a way, though, including an ABC News/Ipsos poll released in January that found 76 percent of respondents wanted Biden to consider "all possible nominees."

Further, many pointed out that by being unable to define "woman," when prompted to by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Judge Jackson undermined the historic nature of her nomination. Jackson's excuse had been that she is not a biologist. 

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It's also worth reminding that Janice Rodgers Brown could have become the first Black woman nominated to the Court, but Biden and Democrats used the filibuster to block her 2003 nomination by President George W. Bush to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Judge Jackson now sits. Biden also voted against Judge Brown's nomination when she was confirmed in 2005, as Spencer highlighted in a column earlier this month. While Judge Brown was considered by President Bush to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Biden came out swinging against her nomination. 

During her confirmation hearings last week, Judge Jackson told Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S) that she did not know Biden had filibustered Judge Brown in 2003. 

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