Posted on April 29, 2010

Why No Blacks on SCOTUS Shortlist?

L. Douglas Wilder, Politico, April 28, 2010v


Anyone paying attention to the lists [of potential Supreme Court nominees President Barack Obama is supposedly considering to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens] the media throw around would be left to believe that the names of potential black justices are being kept apart–segregated into a pile that no one in the White House is paying attention to.

But Marshall’s legacy means too much to our nation to not consider a black nominee.


Since the late 1960s, the nation’s federal courts of appeal have provided the vast majority of nominees to the Supreme Court. When I look around the country, from appellate court to appellate court, I find many qualified African-American judges who could easily and naturally make the transition to the Supreme Court. Their names are augmented by the numerous black state Supreme Court judges who would also have little problem joining the high court.

Justice Clarence Thomas just does not represent the aspirations, or reflect the perspective and experiences, of most African-Americans.


{snip} I do not believe Obama has yet finalized his roster of names.

Why? Because this president is not the type of man who would confine himself to the monochromatic lists that the great mentioners in the media keep foisting on the public.

Where is the diversity of life experience, education and ethnicity? Its absence tells me that Obama–who so richly exemplifies the diversity of the American mosaic–hasn’t yet tipped his true hand.

But why limit this search to judges? I couldn’t even begin to name the great number of black lawyers who could join the justices of the Supreme Court and serve with distinction.

Not to mention the plentiful crop of black law professors ready and able to serve.


Obama has a golden opportunity.

There are some senators today who want to stop any nominee the president sends up to Capitol Hill.

If Obama nominates a qualified person of color, he puts these senators in a bind: If they filibuster, the president can make a recess appointment. If after that appointment exhausts itself, senators fail to confirm the justice, Obama can nominate another like-minded person of color–thus opening the door for any number of people to have the experience of serving on the highest U.S. bench and giving that constituency a voice for as long as Obama is there.


{snip} We owe Marshall, and the country, more than that. God knows, we have waited; and no group of Americans has waited longer.