Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Greg Nash/Pool via AP
- Sen. Graham rejected the idea that President Biden tapping a Black woman for SCOTUS is affirmative action.
- The senator said Biden had a wealth of qualified candidates to choose from.
- His comments came after Sen. Wicker said a Black female nominee would be a “beneficiary” of affirmative action.
Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday refuted the notion that President Joe Biden’s pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the US Supreme Court was “affirmative action” and said doing so would make the court “look more like America.”
During an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” the South Carolina Republican told moderator Margaret Brennan he was supportive of qualified minority candidates being considered to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who will step down from the Supreme Court later this year.
“Put me in the camp of making sure the court and other institutions look like America,” the senator said. “You know, we make a real effort as Republicans to recruit women and people of color to make the party look more like America. Affirmative action is picking somebody not as well qualified for past wrongs.”
Graham’s comments came after Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi in a recent interview said the Black female candidate that Biden nominates would be a “beneficiary” of affirmative action, which on Saturday elicited a rebuke from the White House.
In the interview Sunday Graham praised J. Michelle Childs, a judge on the US District Court for the District of South Carolina who earlier this month was nominated by Biden to serve on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and is now being considered to replace Breyer.
“Michelle Childs is incredibly qualified. There’s no affirmative action component if you pick her,” he said.
He continued: “I can’t think of a better person for President Biden to consider for the Supreme Court then Michelle Childs. 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.”
Graham also said there were other Black women he believed would be well-prepared to serve on the high court.
“President [Ronald] Reagan said running for office that he wanted to put the first female on the court. Whether you like it or not, Joe Biden said ‘I’m going to pick an African-American woman to serve on the Supreme Court,'” he said. “I believe there are plenty of qualified African American women — conservative and liberal — that could go onto the court.”
The White House confirmed last week that Childs — who has also been praised by Democratic House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina — was being considered for the seat.
Graham again reiterated that Childs, who received her master’s degree and juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina, had a wealth of expertise in labor and employment law and would be well suited for the court.
“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.”
Biden is set to announce his pick by the end of February, with Senate Democrats angling to swiftly move the nomination through the upper chamber.