Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears, who is the first Black woman – and first woman, period – to hold her position, said Thursday that she hopes President Biden will pick a qualified candidate who “respects the Constitution” when fulfilling his promise to choose a Black female as his Supreme Court nominee.
“What we’re hoping is that, and you saw the poll on it, is that if he’s going to pick a woman, if he’s going to pick a Black woman, that he does pick someone who will respect the Constitution, that she will be a qualified candidate,” Sears said Thursday on “The Story.” “That’s really what we want.”
The poll comes after Biden said that he will announce his nominee before the end of February and confirmed that the candidate will be a Black female. Among Democrats, 54% supported considering all nominees regardless of race and gender. Just 23% of those polled wanted Biden to restrict his list of nominees to Black women.
Sears said that while it’s incumbent on Biden to nominate a deserving candidate for a seat on the high court, the gender and race parameters set by the administration are not unprecedented.
“It’s really not without precedence. Many people may not realize that the court was very highly partisan for at least the first 100 years of its existence,” Sears said.
“President Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall. We all applauded that. We thought that was an excellent thing because it helped to bring the country together,” she continued. “And then people started clamoring for a female. They wanted a woman on the court. So we got Sandra Day O’Connor. We have at various times tried to put people on the court, whether it was not gender but maybe it was religion or some other issue. So as I said, it’s not without precedence.”
“The Story” host Martha MacCallum pointed out that Biden blocked the first Black woman from the court as a senator in 2003 when President Bush nominated Janice Rogers Brown.
“It just raises the question about whether or not this is really more about liberal or conservative and much less about wanting to see people break those barriers that you speak of,” MacCallum said.
“Well, that’s the thing,” Sears responded. “When I first heard that he was going to nominate the first Black woman, I thought to myself, three words. Janice Rogers Brown. Where were you, Mr. President, when we wanted her to be on the Supreme Court?”
“What I’m saying [is], let’s not continue this division,” she said. “It’s not unheard of. We’ve done it with gender, we’ve done it with religion, we’ve done it the race. So the court is kind of going back, or the politics of it anyway is going back to the court’s first 100 years of existence where it was very highly partisan. There’s the precedence.”
Sears said what she believes the country wants “is for someone who respects the Constitution, who is not going to be divisive and who is very highly qualified, who will set aside the politics and judge fairly.”