The vast majority of Americans disapprove of the criteria with which President Joe Biden has promised to use when nominating the next Supreme Court Justice.
After Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement last week, Biden immediately reaffirmed a campaign promise to nominate a black woman to replace Breyer.
“The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity. And that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court,” Biden said on Thursday. “It’s long overdue in my view. I made that commitment during the campaign for president, and I will keep that commitment.”
What did the poll say?
A new ABC News/Ipsos poll published Sunday discovered that 76% of Americans want Biden to “consider all possible nominees” — not make a decision based on race or gender. Just 23% of respondents said they want Biden to follow through on his promise, the poll found.
Nearly every Republican surveyed (95%) said Biden should consider every possible nominee, while a majority of Democrats polled (54%) said the same.
Meanwhile, the poll found that a whopping 69% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of record inflation; 75% of respondents described the state of the economy as “not so good” or “poor.”
What is the White House saying?
White House spokesman Andrew Bates rebuffed criticism over Biden’s promise, which critics have likened to affirmative action.
In fact, Bates claimed that Biden’s promise “is in line with the best traditions of both parties and our nation,” according to the Washington Post. Bates specifically invoked Ronald Reagan’s promise to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court, a promise that resulted in Sandra Day O’Conner becoming the first female Supreme Court justice in 1981.
However, constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, disputed on Friday the exact comparison that Bates made.
According to Turley, Biden essentially ruled out considering any male judges or non-white female judges by promising that his nominee “will be the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.” On the other hand, Reagan did not rule out non-women from consideration.
“What is most striking about the Reagan-Biden comparison is how unnecessary it was for Biden to categorically rule out non-female and non-black applicants. He could have simply made clear that he wanted to add a black female to the Court and would make that a priority without promising that the first vacancy would be barred to other genders or races,” Turley explained.