A promise Biden now portrays as high-minded in fact was a trade for an endorsement.
During the 2020 Democrat primaries, Joe Biden made a promise on stage during a debate that he only would consider Black women for the first U.S. Supreme Court vacancy if Biden were elected. It was a promise Biden repeated many times during the campaign and after election.
As we covered last week, with Justice Stephen Breyer’s planned retirement, Biden again promised to fill the spot only with a Black woman to the exclusion of considering any other people. That Biden posture is overwhelmingly unpopular, including with “nonwhite” people, as we covered in a separate post tonight, ABC Poll: Only 28% of “Nonwhite Americans” Agree That Biden Should Only Consider A Black Woman For SCOTUS.
In the course of my research, I learned more details about Biden’s pledge to appoint a Black woman to SCOTUS. It was not some “racial justice” or “equity” or “diversity” or similar move. It was not high-minded, ideological or philosophical at all. It was a quid pro quo for South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn’s campaign endorsement, which proved crucial to Biden winning the nomination.
ABC News reports:
At President Joe Biden’s lowest moment in the 2020 campaign, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn came to him with a suggestion: He should pledge to put the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.
After some cajoling, Biden made the promise at a Democratic debate, a move Clyburn credits with turning out the Black support that helped Biden score a resounding victory in the South Carolina primary and ultimately win the White House.
The NY Times adds more details:
Mr. Biden made the promise at a debate in February 2020, just days before facing his Democratic rivals in the South Carolina primary, where Black people make up a large portion of the party’s voters. At the time, his campaign was struggling amid losses in two of the early presidential contests.
“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,” Mr. Biden said that night.
The promise helped Mr. Biden secure the support of Representative James Clyburn, a veteran Black Democrat from South Carolina, just days ahead of the party’s contest in that state. Last year, Mr. Clyburn confirmed a report in the book “Peril,” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, that he had urged Mr. Biden to make the promise during the debate.”
U.S. Representative James Clyburn said he talked to Joe Biden about nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court before the South Carolina Democrat made his pivotal endorsement during the 2020 presidential primary.
Speaking on Bloomberg TV’s “Balance of Power with David Westin,” Clyburn confirmed reports he had pressed Biden on the issue in advance of the Feb. 25, 2020 South Carolina Democratic debate, when the candidate used his closing statement to promise he would nominate the court’s first Black female justice.
“I have three daughters,” said Clyburn, who is Black. “I think I would be less than a good dad if I did not say to the president-to-be, this is an issue that is simmering in the African-American community that Black women think they have as much right to sit on the Supreme Court as any other women, and up to that point none had been considered.”
According to the new book “Peril,” by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Clyburn made his endorsement conditional on Biden’s commitment to nominating a Black woman. The book says that during a break in the debate, Clyburn pushed Biden to reveal his intentions that night. Biden went on to win the primary and cement himself as the front-runner for the nomination.
Michael Isakoff at Yahoo News goes even deeper into that debate night:
It was Feb. 25, 2020, the night of a crucial Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina — and Biden’s campaign was on the ropes, in serious danger of being knocked out of the race. The former vice president had been trounced in the Iowa caucuses (where he finished fourth) and the New Hampshire primary (where he came in fifth). South Carolina was his firewall, and Biden was counting on a promised endorsement from the most powerful figure in the state’s Democratic politics, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, to revive his campaign.
But Clyburn was extracting a firm promise from Biden: that he would name an African American woman to the Supreme Court….
Clyburn raised the issue with Biden on the night before the debate, and he expected that Biden would make the commitment during the debate. But as the debate unfolded at Charleston’s Gaillard Center concert hall, Clyburn “grew more and more frustrated,” according to an account presented by the journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes in their book “Lucky.” “Why won’t he say it?” Clyburn asked himself.
At that point, the authors add, Clyburn — during a break in the debate — took the matter into his own hands and headed backstage to confront Biden.
“So Clyburn gets up from his seat in the debate hall in the audience, and he makes a beeline for the exit,” Allen said during an appearance on the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast last March. When he found Biden, he unloaded, Allen added. “He says, ‘Look, I told you that I wanted you to say that you were going to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court. You haven’t done it yet. You’ve had a bunch of opportunities. Don’t you dare leave this stage without doing it.’”
Biden took the message — or warning — from his most important political backer to heart. When the debate resumed, Biden delivered. “Everyone should be represented,” he said when asked about his personal motto and the biggest misconception about him. “The fact is, what we should be doing — 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 every representation.” And then he added: “Not a joke.”
Clyburn officially endorsed Biden the next morning — and Biden went on to a resounding triumph in the South Carolina primary, putting him back on the path to the nomination.
Joe Biden has been a political self-serving manipulator his entire career, particularly on matters of race. The promise to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court was just another Biden manipulation, making a promise he now portrays as high-minded but in fact was a trade for an endorsement.DONATE
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