Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said he is already skeptical of President Joe Biden’s not-yet-announced Supreme Court nominee, after the president reaffirmed his pledge to nominate a Black woman this week.
Biden will pick a replacement for Justice Stephen Breyer, the liberal-leaning member of the court who announced his retirement plans on Thursday.
During an appearance on a Mississippi radio program on Friday, Wicker dismissed Biden’s eventual choice as a “beneficiary” of “affirmative racial discrimination,” lamenting that the court would be saying goodbye to a “nice, stately” justice.
“I hope it’s at least someone who will at least not misrepresent the facts. I think that it will misinterpret the law,” the senator said.
Biden has not even hinted at who he will nominate yet; he said on Friday that he will make a decision by the end of February. Any nominee is reviewed by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which shares its evaluation with Congress.
“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,” Wicker told SuperTalk Mississippi’s Paul Gallo.
In the fall, the Supreme Court is expected to hear a case challenging the concept of affirmative action at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, where plaintiffs say Asian Americans are discriminated against.
“The majority of the court may be saying writ large, ‘it’s unconstitutional,’ but see how that irony works out,” Wicker said.
The senator of 15 years predicted with dread that Biden’s pick would be similar to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009.
“We’re gonna go from a nice, stately left-wing liberal to a someone who’s probably more in the style of Sonia Sotomayor. The votes will be the same, so it’s a lateral move,” he told Gallo.
“I’ll tell you, I hope it’s not someone like Sotomayor,” Wicker went on, citing the justice’s recent mischaracterization of the danger that the omicron COVID-19 variant poses to children.
He praised President Donald Trump’s three Supreme Court picks, and admonished members of his party who refused to vote for Trump a second time, saying, “For those people who vote Republican and were just a little uncomfortable voting for Trump last time because they had a problem with his demeanor, this is what you get.”
The White House responded to Wicker’s criticism in a statement on Saturday pointing out that prior to nominating Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, President Ronald Reagan had pledged to choose a woman to sit on the high court. Like Biden, Reagan made this promise during his presidential campaign.
“President Biden’s promise that he would nominate and confirm the first Black woman to the Supreme Court is in line with the best traditions of both parties and our nation,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates told HuffPost.
The statement continued:
When President Reagan honored his campaign pledge to place the first woman on the court, he said it “symbolized” the unique American opportunity “that permits persons of any sex, age, or race, from every section and every walk of life to aspire and achieve in a manner never before even dreamed about in human history.”
President Biden has established one of the strongest track records ever when it comes to choosing extraordinarily qualified and groundbreaking nominees ― as the American Bar Association ratings for his 42 confirmed nominees demonstrate.
What’s more, when the previous president followed through on his own promise to place a woman on the Supreme Court, Senator Wicker said, “I have five granddaughters, the oldest one is 10. I think Justice Amy Coney Barrett will prove to be an inspiration to these five granddaughters and to my grown daughters.” We hope Senator Wicker will give President Biden’s nominee the same consideration he gave to then-Judge Barrett.
Jennifer Bendery contributed to this report.