Liberal groups and some Black legislators are urging President Barack Obama to appoint Attorney General Loretta Lynch to fill the Supreme Court position left open by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.
According to The Hill, Black lawmakers say appointing Lynch to the Supreme Court would make history for two reasons. She would be the first Black woman appointed to the highest court of the land, and she would also be the first Black person appointed to the Supreme Court since President George H.W. Bush appointed Clarence Thomas in 1991.
Bush’s appointment of Thomas turned out to be a stealth move. Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall, the first Black person to sit on the Supreme Court. Marshall was a liberal, who played an instrumental role in the landmark Brown Vs. Board of Education ruling that desegregated schools. However, Thomas has turned out to be a conservative who has been critical of affirmative action programs and has not supported Black causes.
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings told The Hill that one of the advantages of appointing Lynch to the Supreme Court is that she was already scrutinized by the Senate, when she was approved to be attorney general.
“I would love to see him appoint Loretta Lynch. She’s already been vetted. She meets the criteria that he’s laid out. She would certainly be my recommendation,” said Cummings.
He added that appointing Lynch would also be a nod to Black women, who are strong backers of Obama.
“African-American women have played a major role in our electoral process. They vote at a high rate,” Cummings said.
The liberal advocacy group, Democracy for America, started a petition on Friday calling for nomination of a “woman of color.”
“After centuries of racial and gender exclusion, America has a lot of catching up to do. Since the creation of the Supreme Court in 1789, America has had 112 justices, and 106 have been white men,” said the petition.
The Atlanta Blackstar said Obama needs to appoint a pro-Black judge to undo some of the damage done by rulings from Scalia, who they described as “a blatant and vocal cheerleader for white supremacy.” Nominating Lynch would be one of Obama’s last chances to do something significant for Black people.
“As for President Obama, the decision to nominate an African-American comes at a time when he is nearing the end of his presidency and is eager to cement his legacy,” said David Love, Atlanta Blackstar writer. “Unencumbered by a reelection campaign and hoping to leave his mark on civil rights, Obama is free to think as he pleases and is unconcerned about his Republican adversaries.”
Although Lynch received 10 Republican votes when she was confirmed as attorney general, there is no guarantee they will vote for her again. Senate Republicans have vowed to oppose anyone nominated by the president.
A letter signed by several Senate Republicans said the next Supreme Court justice should be appointed by the next president.
“Because our decision is based on constitutional principle and born of necessity to protect the will of the American people, this Committee will not hold any hearings on Supreme Court justice until after our next President is sworn in January 20, 2017,” according to the letter.
However Democrats hope that if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, they will still get a Black Supreme Court justice.
“Under Hillary Clinton, we would have a good chance of getting a qualified African-American nominee through,” said Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay in an interview with The Hill. “She could always re-nominate the person.”