Biden says he’ll release list of Black women as potential SCOTUS nominees

Quint Forgey

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday seemingly committed to releasing a shortlist of Black women for potential Supreme Court nominees ahead of November’s general election.

“We are putting together a list of a group of African American women who are qualified and have the experience to be on the court,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del., after delivering a speech focused on President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am not going to release that until we go further down the line in vetting them, as well,” Biden added, declining to specify when he would unveil the list of names.

The apparent pledge from the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee comes after he previously vowed in February to nominate the first Black woman to the nation’s highest court if presented with the opportunity while in office.

Progressive activists have called upon Biden to release a list of candidates he would consider appointing to the Supreme Court — a tactic Trump memorably embraced in 2016 in an effort to shore up conservative support during his first White House bid.

After his administration was dealt two major defeats by the court earlier this month, Trump said he would release a new list of potential nominees before Election Day.

Biden’s remarks represent an acknowledgment that his campaign is conducting two consequential vetting processes simultaneously: one for a future Black, female justice and another for his vice presidential nominee.

Biden revealed in March he would select a female running mate, and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality have heightened pressure on his campaign to choose a woman of color.

Biden said Tuesday there are a “number of women of color” on his vice presidential shortlist, including Hispanic women and women of Asian heritage, but that he is “not releasing the names of all” the candidates.

“We’re just underway now in the hard vet of going into the deep background checks that take anywhere from six to eight weeks to be done,” he said. “The committees have been formed, and that’s underway.”

Biden also appeared to soften his timetable for announcing his running mate, after telling supporters last month he hoped to make a decision by Aug. 1.

“Early August. I can't guarantee you Aug. 1, but it will be in early August, several weeks before the convention,” he said of the campaign’s schedule. The 2020 Democratic National Convention is set to take place Aug. 17-20 in Milwaukee.