Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina indicated Sunday that he would not be a barrier to President Joe Biden’s plan to nominate a black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The White House has confirmed that U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs is on President Joe Biden’s shortlist of names to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, according to USA Today.
Biden’s plan to let race and gender dictate his nominee has come under criticism.
“The irony is that the Supreme Court is at the very time hearing cases about this sort of affirmative racial discrimination while adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota,” Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said Friday, according to Fox News.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 29, 2022
During an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Graham was nothing but supportive when asked if he had told South Carolina Democrat Jim Clyburn, who is the House Majority Whip, that he would be a “yes” for Childs if she’s the nominee.
“Here’s what I’ll tell him and the nation. I — I can’t think of a better person for President Biden to consider for the Supreme Court than Michelle Childs,” Graham said, according to a CBS transcript of the interview.
“She has wide support in our state. She’s considered to be a fair-minded, highly gifted jurist. She’s one of the most decent people I’ve ever met. It would be good for the court to have somebody who’s not at Harvard or Yale. She’s a graduate of the University of South Carolina, a public education background.
“She’s been a workers comp judge. She’s highly qualified. She’s a good character. And we’ll see how she does if she’s nominated. But I cannot say anything bad about Michelle Childs. She is an awesome person,” Graham said.
Lindsey Graham backs Biden’s pledge to automatically pick a black woman, says it will “make the court look more like America” pic.twitter.com/odpdXKoves
— Jewish Patriot (@MAGAJew2) January 30, 2022
Graham hedged that he was not voting for someone not yet nominated.
If she is, “she will not be treated like Judge Kavanaugh, I promise you, by Republicans,” Graham vowed, referring to the high-velocity smear campaign that surrounded then-President Donald Trump’s nomination of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the court in 2018.
“Let’s see how she does at the hearing. But I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a big admirer,” he said.
Graham offered his interpretation of balance as regards the court.
“I’d like to see the court have — a have a lot more balance, some common sense on it. Everybody doesn’t have to be from Harvard, Yale,” he said. “It’s OK to go to a public university and get your law degree.”
Graham said that he saw little difference between Biden’s goal of having a black woman on the court and former President Ronald Reagan’s gender diversity goal that led to the appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor.
“Put me in the camp of making sure the court and other institutions look like America. You know, we make a real effort as Republicans to recruit women and people of color to make the party look more like America,” he said.
“Affirmative action is picking somebody not as well qualified for past wrongs,” he said. “Michelle Childs is incredibly qualified. There’s no affirmative action component if you pick her. She is highly qualified.”
Graham said Childs is not an aberration or a second-best choice.
“I believe there are plenty of qualified African-American women, conservative and liberal, that could go onto the court. So I don’t concede — I don’t see Michelle Childs as an act of affirmative action,” he said.
“I do see putting a black woman on the court, making the court more like America. In the history of our country, we’ve only had five women serve and two African-American men, so let’s make the court more like America,” he said.
Graham noted one caveat.
“But qualifications have to be the biggest consideration,” he said. “And as to Michelle Childs, I think she’s qualified by every measure.”
Childs was nominated to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama and has served as a district court judge since 2010, according to Politico.
Last month, Biden nominated Childs for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but the nomination has not yet been considered by the Senate.
In a separate CBS interview, Clyburn said there is vast symbolism in naming someone like Childs to the court.
“It says to every little child out there — growing up under moderate circumstances, needing the entire community to help raise it, getting scholarships to go off to school because they couldn’t afford to go otherwise, going to public schools because you didn’t get an offer from one of the big private schools — it says to them, ‘You’ve got just as much of a chance to benefit from the greatness of this country as everybody else,’” he said.
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