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In Supreme Court Nomination Debate, Echoes of Past Judicial Breakthrough

14 Menit

In Supreme Court Nomination Debate, Echoes of Past Judicial Breakthrough

10 Februari 2022

When President Biden announced that he would nominate a Black woman—the Supreme Court's first—to the seat that will be vacated by retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, criticism from some on the right began almost immediately. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said it was "racist" to consider only Black women for the post, and Biden's decision was "insulting to African-American women." The conversation about identity and qualifications echoes some of the questions that arose when another breakthrough appointment was announced more than 50 years ago. In 1966, Constance Baker Motley became the first Black woman to serve on the federal bench. Her identity and lived experience as a civil rights attorney loomed large in the debate about her fitness to serve. Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of Harvard Radcliffe Institute, and author of Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle For Equality, discusses Motley's nomination and her career. She says Motley supported the appointment of women and people of color to the federal judiciary as a way to strengthen the institution. In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment to help you make sense of what's going on in your community. Email us at Learn more about sponsor message choices: NPR Privacy Policy


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