He's a centrist, so Republicans will deem him safe enough for the nation's highest bench, according to the New Republic. He's a Harvard Law School graduate and former federal prosecutor, like several of the court's current justices. He even oversaw the Oklahoma City bombing case as a member of president Bill Clinton's Department of Justice administration. The 63-year-old also has a personal relationship with chief justice John Roberts.
Garland is a fine pick indeed, especially as Obama gears up for a bruising battle in Congress to get him approved. It's logical to choose a nominee who can appeal to politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Yet, disappointment is bubbling in the pit of my stomach. Again, Obama had an opportunity to make a historic leap by nominating a radical Black woman to the bench — and he instead chose to nominate a white man.
Kamala Harris, California's first African-American and South Asian-American attorney general, would've also been a reasonable pick. Or maybe Ketanji Brown Jackson, a U.S. district court judge in Washington, D.C. who Obama's administration strongly-considered for the appointment.
Given that Black women represent over 6% of America's overall population, it's reasonable to expect that at least one justice could represents the swath of our views. As writer Charles Clymer highlights at Medium, "Black women are the largest female demographic in the country not reflected by the Court’s current composition."
Representation matters. A radical Black woman on the Supreme Court would offer a unique perspective on an array of important social issues, like racism and sexism in jurisprudence, voting rights, and even reproductive healthcare. While she couldn't shoulder all of the issues plaguing Black women, a Black female justice could sway some of her fellow justices to address a few of them.
Black activist groups, like the Black Women's Roundtable, agree and are also dismayed by Obama's choice.
"We continue to believe it is time for African American women to be represented in all sectors of government — including the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States, which in its 227 year history has not had a Black woman nominated to serve on the highest court in the land."
Our current moment is the ideal time to nominate a Black woman to the bench. Racial tensions are mounting in cities where Black people are being killed with impunity. The Guardian found that police officers killed at least 1,000 people in 2015, and these numbers are continuing to increase in 2016.
Black women deserve one justice who aligns with us, shares our experiences, and is advocating for us at the Supreme Court.
Even some congressional leaders agree.
"We don't have anybody on the Supreme Court who has any understanding of our unique cultural issues. Everybody else is represented. I'm not mad. We have women, Latinos, white men — when do we get somebody?" Ohio representative, Emanuel Cleaver, asked in an interview with NBC Black.
That same question haunts me. If Obama, an African-American president with an African-American wife and two African-American daughters won't nominate a Black female justice, who will?
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