Four years ago, I could not imagine that three days after the transition of a trailblazing jurist on the Supreme Court, anyone would be talking about her replacement. But this is 2020, the third year of the Trump Presidency; we have observed any, and everything goes beyond the pale.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the notorious RBG, lived a life of purpose. She held on as long as she could. Her passing caused me to reflect on the last days of Justice Thurgood Marshall’s life. When Marshall announced he was retiring, a reporter asked him why now. Marshall replied, “My body, man, it’s falling apart.”
Marshall stayed on the bench, hoping a Democratic President would win the White House; when it became apparent that a change was not in the immediate future, he resigned to live out his remaining days in peace.
Ginsburg stayed on the job longer than her health dictated she stay. Sadly, last weekend she closed her eyes to the turmoil of this world. Her departure leaves a vacancy on the Supreme Court. While her last wish was for the next presidential administration to replace her, President Trump and Senate Republicans began public discussions about replacing her before her body grew cold.
Otherwise, I would not engage in talks of who should replace Ginsburg until after the next President, whoever that may be, has been sworn into office.
Three weeks ago, President Trump released a list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court. I wondered at the time why he published such a plan. Now we can speculate that he was counting on Ginsburg not making it to January 20, 2020.
Democrat Presidential Nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, did not follow suit and announce his picks for the Supreme Court should one become available. So far, Biden has refused to take the bait to release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees should he win in November and is called upon to fill a seat on the court.
For Biden, we can assume the Ginsburg seat is out of the question because Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell are hell-bent on filling that seat before the November General Election.
Biden has said that he will pick a Black woman to fill the first vacancy in his administration. Here are three Black women for Biden’s shortlist that could propel his electability, if he published a list now:
Michelle Obama, Anita Hill, and Leah Ward Sears, any one of which would make an excellent jurist on the Supreme Court. All three women have the temperament to work alongside men and women who hold differing views and will always work to bring the bench to a consensus for the common good. In a time when partisan politics — where the litmus test is whether one is pro-life or pro-women rights — is the rule of the day, you cannot ask for any more than this.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama would be an instant public favorite. She was an exceedingly popular first lady. She brings an extremely sharp legal mind to the process. Many in the African American community have long called for Mrs. Obama to be on the court. Hopes of a Michelle Obama nomination for the Supreme Court would inspire not only Black women but women throughout this country to get behind the Biden candidacy. No one can question her legal bona fides.
Anita Hill recently announced that she would be willing to work with the Joe Biden administration. A Hill appointment to the bench would bring a sense of redemption to Biden for not fully protecting her during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Additionally, Hill, a law school professor, would energize women voters throughout this country as Hill’s perception is that of a warrior for women’s rights in the vain of RBG.
While Leah Ward Sears is not as well known nationally as Obama and Hill, she has a proven track record on the Georgia Supreme Court, where she became the first Black woman to serve on a state Supreme Court in the country. Additionally, she later served as the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, another national first.
Today Ward Sears is an accomplished corporate attorney who knows how to resolve hotly contested issues amicably. Her potential appointment to the Supreme Court would give Biden a much-needed bounce in Georgia among minority and suburban women. With a little more work, Biden can pick up Georgia, and a “favorite daughter” from the state on the Supreme Court may be the thing that carries him over the top.
Harold Michael Harvey is the Living Now 2020 Bronze Medal winner in the category of male memoir for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received for his pro bono representation of Black college students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. An avid public speaker, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.