‘Tribal warfare’: Tucker Carlson attacks Biden’s pledge to appoint Black, female Supreme Court justice

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Tucker Carlson (EPA-EFE)
Tucker Carlson (EPA-EFE)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said President Joe Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman to the US Supreme Court was an “identity politics” exercise that would bring about “tribal warfare”.

Mr Carlson, whose monologues on his prime-time Tucker Carlson Tonight programme are frequently replete with white nationalist tropes and racialised rhetoric, on Wednesday also accused Mr Biden of prioritising his potential court pick’s skin colour over any other qualifications.

Mr Biden’s pledge to name a Black woman to the court dates to a Democratic primary debate in March 2020, when the then-former vice president was reeling from losses in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus and New Hampshire presidential primary and was fervently courting the support of Black voters in the upcoming South Carolina primary.

At the time, he promised that his administration would “look like the country” and said he would “commit” to “appoint the first Black woman to the court”.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president “certainly stands by” his commitment to name a Black woman to the nine-member court.

Speaking of Mr Biden’s campaign promise, Carlson said: “He didn't even tell us she was a nice person. All he said was she's going to be Black and she's going to be female, because to him, that's all that mattered”. He then accused the president of “believing all Black women are the same”.

The Fox News host said Mr Biden’s choice would lead to other minority groups demanding to have their own representatives on the high court.

“Why isn't there an American Indian on the court or a genderqueer or someone from the chronic fatigue syndrome community or a justice with cognitive disabilities? Why isn't there an Afghan refugee under consideration?” he said.

“Identity politics always ends with tribal warfare. It's funny the Biden people can't see that – maybe they can see it and don't care, or maybe it's the entire point of the exercise.”

His incendiary comments came hours after news outlets began reporting that the court’s most senior liberal justice, Stephen Breyer, plans to announce that he will stand down from the nation’s highest court after 27 years on the bench, giving Mr Biden a chance to replace him with a younger justice of a similar ideology while his party controls the Senate.

Carlson’s monologue also ignored the long history of presidents taking race or gender into account when making nominations to the court.

In 1967, then-President Lyndon Johnson deliberately selected attorney Ramsey Clark to be Attorney General because Mr Clark’s new role would force his father, Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark, to resign.

The elder Clark’s departure from the court made room for Mr Johnson to select then-solicitor general and former Second Circuit Court of Appeals judge Thurgood Marshall to be the first Black man to serve on the court.

When then-President Ronald Reagan announced then-Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Sandra Day O’Connor would be his choice to be the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice, he fulfilled a campaign promise similar to the one made by Mr Biden.

At a 1980 news conference, then-candidate Ronald Reagan responded to critics who charged that he was insensitive to women’s rights matters by announcing that he would appoint a woman to the high court.

“It is time for a woman to sit among our highest jurists,” he said before adding that he would “also seek out women to appoint to other federal courts in an effort to bring about a better balance on the federal bench”.

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