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harris: Kamala Harris to play key role in selecting new SC justice


WASHINGTON: Kamala Harris considers Constance Baker Motley, the first Black female federal judge in US history, her hero, someone who she says “inspired me from a young age to fight for the voiceless and for justice.” On Thursday, President Joe Biden affirmed that his much-critiqued vice-president will help him select a likeness of Motley to an even higher perch, the highest court in the land.
“I am fortunate to have advising me in this selection process Vice President Kamala Harris. She’s an exceptional lawyer, a former Attorney General of the State of California, a former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Biden said in a White House event with retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, asserting that a black female nominee to the apex court was “long overdue.”
Harris herself confirmed that she will be a key player, telling reporters during a visit to Honduras that “The President and I will work closely together…on the selection process,” putting a lid on speculation that their ties are frayed.
Biden has often described his vice-president as “the last voice in the room” on critical matters, including weighty foreign policy issues such as the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and sometimes referring absentmindedly to her as “President Harris,” But no issue could be closer to the heart of the first female US vice-president of color than the selection of America’s first black female Supreme Court justice, given her own formative experience as a minority immigrant child in the segregated ’60s and her journey as a law student and subsequent prosecutorial career.
In talks, speeches, and essays, Harris has often reflected on the influence Constance Baker Motley had on her life, starting with her work in the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case that led the US Supreme Court to unanimously rule that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” The subsequent dismantling of racially segregated education allowed little Kamala to attend a mixed school in California.
Harris will now have the opportunity to help select — and shepherd through a Senate confirmation — a likeness of Motley from a slew of black female candidates, including California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger and DC Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. One small wrinkle or big hurdle depending on the source: South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, an African-American party veteran, is pushing for US District Court Judge J.Michelle Childs from his home state.
Clyburn was an early Kamala Harris backer when she ran for President, and he subsequently rescued the Biden campaign after early setbacks when he had lost three primaries in 2020, resurrecting it in South Carolina. Apparently, he had extracted a promise from Biden right then, forcing him to publicly commit to nominating a black female justice to the SC if he made it to the White House. The lawmaker is now reportedly insisting on cashing in his chips.
But no matter which black female nominee is confirmed — a process Republicans are certain to try and thwart — Democrats won’t be able to offset the ideological tilt of the apex court, which will still lean conservative by a 6-3 margin. That’s because Republicans commanding a Senate majority during the Trump Presidency managed to push through three nominees. Considering all three are relatively young (Neil Gorsuch,55; Brett Kavanagh, 57; and Amy Coney Barrett, 50), and US Supreme Court justices can serve till they die, the conservative leaning of the apex court is assured for at least another generation.

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