The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Biden's Concern about Racial and Gender Diversity on Supreme Court is appropriate--February, 2022

Posted on February 04, 2022 at 02:00 PM

It is perfectly appropriate for President Biden to choose an African American woman for the Supreme Court and emphasize the need for the Court to look like America. We would respectfully disagree with those like Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) who have lambasted Biden’s position.

Civil rights and diversity are bedrock issues for the Greater Delta Region in general and the Delta Caucus in particular. One of the fundamental causes of the Delta’s higher poverty rate is the history of racial discrimination in our region.

The Delta Caucus supports gender and racial diversity on this and all other issues. It is beneficial for the justices to include a wide variety of professional and life experiences in their internal deliberations. White males have dominated the federal judiciary and it’s time for much more diversity.

It’s nonsense to say that this restricts the candidate pool to a limited number of qualified nominees. There are very large numbers of exemplary African American women lawyers and jurists in America today.

Those who decry the inclusion of “political” considerations (among a range of many other factors) into Presidents’ choices of Supreme Court nominees are either obtuse or hypocritical. In a democracy of course elected officials may consider inclusion of a diversity of political views. The realists in the field of jurisprudence long ago won the debate as to whether Presidents only consider pristine, immaculate judicial profundity with nary a thought to political philosophy or diversity. Let’s see if we can keep this discussion on planet Earth.

It is also perfectly fine to consider regional diversity. We would like to see a Southerner chosen for this position, although it is not mandatory. We naturally have great respect for two major institutions in our region–Tulane University and the Southern Poverty Law Center–and would note that one of the many qualified African American women is Nancy Abudu, a Tulane University Law School graduate who did important legal work for the Southern Poverty Law Center. There are many other excellent African American women who could serve very well in this post in addition to Ms. Abudu.

It would fill up a book if we recited all the cases of Presidents considering diversity, philosophy and politics. President Reagan pledged to nominate a woman and stuck to his pledge in nominating Sandra Day O’Connor, who was very well qualified to serve on the court. We don’t need to debate now the pluses and minuses of O’Connor’s record on the Court–we just recall this nomination to note that Presidents of both parties have traditionally considered philosophy, politics and diversity.

We can understand the deep concerns that some of our colleagues in the Delta have expressed about the attacks made on Biden’s choice by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). We have generally known Sen. Wicker to be an amiable, fair-minded person but he made a mistake in this case.

The senator erroneously described affirmative action in general as “affirmative racial discrimination” and that nominating an African American woman would be “adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota.” Actually, affirmative action is intended to redress centuries of racial discrimination against African Americans, women and other minorities and provide them with their fair share of opportunities.

This is not a “quota” but rather a common sense effort to move toward a Supreme Court that looks like the country as a whole by nominating an exemplary African American woman jurist.

In Mississippi, House Minority Leader Robert Johnson III understandably expressed concerns about Sen. Wicker’s comments, saying “I don’t know him to be a racist and don’t think he is, but that was a racist statement.” This is a candid but reasonable criticism from Rep. Johnson, who served in the Mississippi Legislature with Wicker.

We understand that many people believe that Wicker was likely just appealing to his hard-core conservative base, but that does not excuse his erroneous comments.

We look forward to seeing Ms. Abudu or another highly qualified African American woman jurist elevated to the Supreme Court.

We have a number of people who have studied constitutional law issues as well as many who have practical experience in the civil rights movement in our coalition. We have carefully analyzed this situation and the majority of our senior partners agree with this conclusion. For anyone who disagrees, I am here to take the criticism if need be. Thank you.

Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Caucus; Juris Doctorate University of Virginia Law School, graduate degree in recent US history, U. Va. graduate school; Executive Editor of Delta Vision, Delta Voices: The Mississippi Delta Beyond 2000 (Clinton administration report on the Delta for the White House conference on the Delta, May, 2000); author, J. William Fulbright and His Time, biography of Sen. Fulbright that relates his accomplishments in foreign policy and education but sharply criticizes his deeply flawed civil rights record. (202) 360-6347