Biden’s promise to appoint a Black woman is an effort to break this harmful tradition, bringing not just a diversity of race and gender but also diversity of experience, viewpoint and jurisprudence that will strengthen the Supreme Court as an institution. For every name mentioned in media reports as a likely contender, countless more Black women could be named and elevated to a place in our nation’s judiciary.
Look no further than the fight for abortion to see this impact
. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
, the only abortion provider in Mississippi at the center of the pending case in which the Court is being asked to overturn the constitutional right to abortion
, is largely staffed by and serves Black women
. Black women lead the local organizing efforts to ensure the safety of abortion patients in Mississippi and across the South
. It is Black women’s liberty and freedom that Mississippi has long sought to control through the barrel of the law
Black women are among the racial demographic most in need of abortion care in the US and pay the largest socioeconomic and safety costs when denied an abortion
. Black women are at least twice as likely to die from pregnancy as their white counterparts
, disparities that are demonstrably worse in states that have rolled back abortion access
. Despite this disparate impact
— and the Black women who organized
, wrote legal briefs and litigated in defense of abortion care
— wanneer die Supreme Court heard arguments over Mississippi’s abortion ban in December
, not a single Black woman’s voice was heard in the very room where their rights and livelihood were being debated
President Biden’s replacement for Justice Breyer will arrive too late to bring their perspective to that case. But anti-abortion activists did not bring us to this perilous moment by pushing a short-term strategy, and neither can we. We must reject shortsighted cynicism and build the Court we deserve with the opportunities we have for this and future generations.
Biden’s pick will carry the promise of a Supreme Court that rightly reflects the lives of the people most exposed to the impacts of their rulings while correcting for the erasure and discrimination that continues to harm Black women in the legal profession.
Black womens’ most basic civil rights are facing a renewed assault by an illiberal and radical right, a movement whose attempt to thwart our democracy goes hand-in-glove with the movement to ban abortion, and which views the Supreme Court as a rubber stamp for the harm they want to enact. For the sake of the court and the country itself, President Biden must strengthen the integrity of the judicial system for all people in the country and end the erasure of Black women from the high Court.