Donald Trump was expected Saturday to announce that he intends to nominate 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. Reports about the president’s expectations came just hours after Ginsburg, who died last week, became the first woman and Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
The New York Times reported that Barrett, a staunch conservative, was the only person who Trump interviewed for the position. Trump “came away impressed with a jurist that leading conservatives told him would be a female Antonin Scalia, referring to the justice who died in 2016 and for whom Judge Barrett clerked,” Peter Baker reported for the Times.
Of course, there are other issues to be concerned about with Barrett, such as her reported membership to an alleged religious and pro-life cult called People of Praise, her apparent threat to Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized a woman’s right to have an abortion, as well as her use of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
But a comparison to Scalia in 2020 amid nationwide protests against racism, coupled with the fact that he didn’t have the best track record when it came to the topic of race, may not be the optimal way for Trump to appeal to the Black voters he’s so desperately courting.
This writer is old enough to remember when Scalia suggested that some Black people belong at “lesser colleges.” The racist remark came in 2015 as the Reagan-appointee questioned an attorney for the University of Texas, which was defending its use of race as a factor in admissions in Fisher v. Texas, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well,” Scalia said during the case. “One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas.”
Scalia continued: “They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them. I’m just not impressed by the fact that the University of Texas may have fewer. Maybe it ought to have fewer. And maybe some — you know, when you take more, the number of Blacks, really competent Blacks, admitted to lesser schools, turns out to be less.”
Two years earlier, Scalia helped gut the Voting Rights Act. Scalia inexplicably argued that the laws prohibiting racial discrimination in voting “had the effect of requiring racially motivated gerrymandering, amounting to the ‘perpetuation of a racial entitlement’ on the part of Black legislators and constituents benefiting from the districting.”
She the People, a nonprofit organization empowering women of color in politics, spoke out in no uncertain terms against Barrett having a confirmation hearing before Election Day.
“If confirmed, right-wing judicial activist Barrett would reshape the law and society for generations to come. She is a detriment to our democracy,” Aimee Allison, Founder of She the People, said in a statement on Friday. “We want a Supreme Court that is independent and fair. We need a nominee who will provide checks and balances to the other branches, in particular the executive branch. We will fight for that Court. Our nation is reeling from a global pandemic. We are fighting against state-sanctioned violence and unjust policing, which disproportionately harms Black and brown communities. Trump is incapable of picking a nominee who would provide equal justice under law, and the nomination of Coney Barrett confirms this.”