Ted Cruz says Biden's pledge to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court is "offensive."
"He's saying, 'If you're a white guy, tough luck. If you're a white woman, tough luck. You don't qualify,'" Cruz said of Biden.
Republicans have criticized Biden for vowing to make history by placing a Black woman on the court.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday said President Joe Biden's promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court is "offensive."
"The fact that he's willing to make a promise at the outset, that it must be a Black woman, I gotta say that's offensive. You know, Black women are what, 6% of the US population? He's saying to 94% of Americans, 'I don't give a damn about you, you are ineligible,'" the Texas Republican said on his podcast, "Verdict with Ted Cruz."
He went on, "It's actually an insult to Black women. If he came and said, 'I'm gonna put the best jurist on the court and he looked at a number of people and he ended up nominating a Black woman, he could credibly say, 'OK, I'm nominating the person who's most qualified.' He's not even pretending to say that, he's saying, 'If you're a white guy, tough luck. If you're a white woman, tough luck. You don't qualify.'"
Discussion of Biden's first Supreme Court nominee were ignited last Wednesday after news broke that Associate Justice Stephen Breyer plans to retire this summer. The White House immediately faced questions on whether Biden plans to stand by his 2020 campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman in US history to the Supreme Court. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a press briefing the same day that Biden would follow through on his promise.
The following day, Biden officially announced Breyer's decision to step down, and confirmed that he plans to fulfill his promise and nominate the first Black woman to the nation's highest court.
"While I've been studying candidates' backgrounds and writings, I've made no decision except one: 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 Thursday. "It's long overdue, in my opinion."
Possible contenders to replace Breyer that have been floated include DC Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, and South Carolina federal district Judge J. Michelle Childs, who's also a Biden nominee for the DC circuit court.
Besides Cruz, other Republicans have criticized Biden's decision to choose a Black woman for the court, with Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi recently saying the nominee would be a "beneficiary" of affirmative action.
A White House spokesperson rebuked the comments and said Biden's decision "is in line with the best traditions of both parties and our nation," pointing to President Ronald Reagan's pledge to name the first woman to the Supreme Court, and more recently President Donald Trump's promise to name a woman to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Reagan fulfilled his promise by appointing Sandra Day O'Connor to the court in 1981. Trump did so by nominating Amy Coney Barrett in 2020.
Some Republicans, however, have welcomed Biden's plans. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Sunday heaped praise on one of Biden's rumored picks, J. Michelle Childs, and dismissed claims that it'd represent affirmative action.
"Michelle Childs is incredibly qualified. There's no affirmative-action component if you pick her," he said. "I can't think of a better person for President Biden to consider for the Supreme Court than Michelle Childs. She has wide support in our state. She's considered to be a fair-minded, highly gifted jurist. She's one of the most decent people I've ever met."
Graham added, "Put me in the camp of making sure the court and other institutions look like America."
Senate Democratic leaders have said they plan to move quickly ahead with the confirmation process once Biden announces his nominee, which he said will happen some time next month. Biden's pick would not change the court's 6-3 conservative majority but maintain its balance.
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