By The Washington Post · Eugene Scott · NATIONAL, POLITICS, COURTSLAW
Already, there is renewed interest in Democratic nominee Joe Biden's pledge earlier this year to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court if he wins the November election. Those words are being recalled today as questions about the diversity of the court - and its outcome on future rulings - gain more urgency in these sharply polarizing times.
"We talked about the Supreme Court - I'm looking forward to making sure there's a Black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure we in fact get everyone represented," he said during a debate among Democratic candidates in February.
At a June news conference, the former vice president said, "We are putting together a list of African American women who are qualified and have the experience to be on the court. I am not going to release that until we go further down the line in vetting them as well."
Pressure for Biden to share those names could increase as both campaigns look for new ways to motivate voters to turn out. The morning after Ginsburg's death, Trump pushed Biden to release a list of his potential nominees to the Supreme Court. Campaign aides say Biden is not likely to grant Trump's wish. Regardless, conservative critics of the Democratic nominee who view a victory for him in November as a threat to their ideas of America could use his previous words against him.
In recent months, Trump has leaned into stoking fears among the White voters who supported him in 2016 about what America could look like under a Biden presidency. His recent claims that the former vice president will destroy suburbia by making it more ethnically and socioeconomically diverse were rooted in a campaign appealing to the grievances of White Americans uncomfortable with an increasingly diversifying country. Now, Trump is pivoting to focus on how Biden's response to the Supreme Court will affect his largely White base.
The president has curried favor with his base since the 2016 campaign by promising to nominate judges to the courts who will uphold rulings consistent with the values and worldviews of social conservatives, especially on issues related to gender, race and LGBT issues. Both of Trump's Supreme Court appointments - Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh - are White men, a demographic that has consistently supported Trump. But those appointments have also reinforced the idea the president is not prioritizing the concerns of women, the largest voting bloc in the country and one Trump has struggled with since his first term. Perhaps as a result, he is planning to nominate a woman to the bench, according to a Washington Post report - something that could help him with voters in the swing states likely to determine the outcome of the election.
The death of Ginsburg gives Biden another opportunity to distinguish himself from Trump. The former vice president made history by making Sen. Kamala Harris, D.-Calif., the first woman of color to be a major party's vice-presidential nominee. But in a presidential race that is expected to be close, attempts to increase turnout among the base are likely to continue right up until Election Day. For the Democratic Party, one way to do so will be to work on further strengthening its nominee's support among Black voters - an influential demographic whose 2016 turnout was below expectations - especially, Black women.