Politics

We need to replace Justice Breyer with the Court’s first Black woman, and the shortlist is fierce!

“The court should reflect the diversity of our country, and it is unacceptable that we have never in our nation’s history had a Black woman sit on the Supreme Court of the United States — I want to change that,” she said.

The progressive group Demand Justice hired a truck last year to drive around Washington with the sign: “Breyer Retire. It’s time for a Black woman Supreme Court justice.”

So, now it’s official. Breyer is out. Who will replace him? Well … here’s an idea.

Let’s begin with the history. In the 200 years since the creation of the Supreme Court, no Black woman has ever been nominated. 

There have been 113 men and women who have served on the Supreme Court, only three of whom have been people of color. There have been only two Black American members of the Supreme Court: Justice Thurgood Marshall and Justice Clarence Thomas.

Black women have been delivering for liberals at every turn, from showing up at the polls to supporting policies and laws that have improved the lives of Americans. It’s high time the country has a nominee who will understand and protect the rights and needs of communities of color, including the right to vote, access to health care, financial stability, and more. 

One likely contender is U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and a former Breyer law clerk. Jackson grew up in Miami, Florida. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in government from Harvard College and a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Jackson served as a law clerk for three federal judges: Judge Patti B. Saris, and U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit Judge Bruce M. Selya (1997–1998). Then she clerked for Justice Breyer from 1999 until 2000.

In 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Jackson to become vice-chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and she was confirmed unanimously in 2010. Two years later, Obama nominated her to serve as a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and she was confirmed by the full Senate in 2013. 

Another is Leondra Kruger, 45, a justice on California’s Supreme Court. Kruger was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother immigrated from Jamaica to the U.S. and her late father was an American Jew. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from Harvard University and her Juris Doctor degree from Yale University, where she served as the editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal.  She was appointed to the California Supreme Court in 2014 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. She’s the court’s second Black woman justice and at 38, the youngest appointee to the court. 

A year ago the movement #SheWillRise created a shortlist for Court nominees.

The list includes Michelle Alexander, visiting professor of social justice at Union Theological Seminary; North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley; Elise Boddie, professor of law at Rutgers University; Kristin Clarke, president and executive director with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls; and Fatima Gross Graves, president and CE of the National Women’s Law Center, to name a few. 

If you want to make sure the next SCOTUS nominee is a Black woman, sign here. 




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