Has Anyone Checked with Manchin and Sinema?

January 27, 2022 Off By Michael

Two Democrats Key to Appointment of a Black Women on the Supreme Court

 Sherrilyn Ifill is well qualified to serve as a United States Supreme Court Justice, but does she have the right stuff to be confirmed by the Senate. Photo By US Congress, Office of Terri Sewell

Now that Justice Stephen Breyer has officially announced his retirement from the United States Supreme Court, Democrats are delighted that President Joe Biden will make good on his campaign promise to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court.

Biden made this pledge during a 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in South Caroline. Many political pundits credit this promise as the key to Biden receiving the Democratic nomination. Ultimately, Biden won the General Election campaign against an incumbent President, whose name will go unmentioned in this piece, suffice it to say, the incumbent made presidential history because he was impeached twice during one presidential term.

Democrats are ecstatic over the opportunity to appoint a member of the highest court in the land after Sen. Mitch McConnell obstructed President Barrack Obama’s chance to nominate a member to the court in his second term as President.

But not so fast; Democrats must hold their horses. Once a Supreme Court nominee advances from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the nominee must secure 51 votes from the 100-member Senate. There are 50 Republican senators and 48 Democrats. There are two independent senators who caucus with the Democrats.

For all intents and purposes, the Senate is divided 50–50. Under Senate rules, if a vote ends in a fifty-fifty tie, the President of the Senate casts the deciding vote, therefore, the Vice President of the United States. In this instance, Vice President Kamala Harris.

So far, so good, but the problem is the two democratic wildcards, Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

Two weeks before Breyer’s announcement to step down when the Senate has confirmed a replacement, Sinema and Manchin thwarted efforts to pass voting rights legislation designed to protect the rights of Blacks and other colored minorities to vote in local, state, and federal elections.

Sinema and Manchin professed to support for two bills pending in Congress at that time to have fair and equitable elections throughout the country. When push came to shove, both sat on their thumbs. Sinema added insult to injury when she called a press conference just moments before President Biden arrived on capitol hill one last time to press Sinema and Manchin to support the bills.

While both profess they support the causes dear to Black Americans, neither of late have taken any political action to demonstrate they welcome the inclusion of Black people in all facets of American life.

Democrats must move cautiously before making Vice President Harris available to cast a deciding tie-breaking vote. It would be wise to check in with Sinema and Manchin to see if they can support adding a Black woman onto the Supreme Court.

Even if Sinema and Manchin say, they support Biden’s nomination of a Black jurist, who would believe them until they cast their vote.

Moreover, should Republican senators’ filibuster to prevent a vote of the nominee coming to the floor of the Senate, which side will Sinema and Manchin support?

Adding a Black woman to the United States Supreme Court will not be easy. The process will be fraught with many of the dangers that Biden’s Build Back Better and Voting Rights legislation encountered before the unfortunate demise at the hands of Sinema and Manchin.

Should Biden pick a well-qualified woman capable of going toe to toe with the conservative members of the bench on matters concerning abortion, voting rights, climate, and affirmative action, someone like Sherrilyn Ifill? At 59 years old, Ifill has a private undergraduate degree from Vassar and a law degree from a public institution, New York Law School. Ifill brings a keen mind, quick wit, and sagacious interpersonal skills to cut through the bull of Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Barrett.

Ifill is just the nominee to get the Republicans’ dandruff up and cause Sinema and Machin to go “grumpty-gump” over Biden’s right to have his pick on the Supreme Court.

McConnell wasted little time following Breyer’s announcement to issue a warning shot to Biden that he should not appoint a progressive lawyer to the court. Stating that Biden’s choice should be closer to the center even though the last two Republican appointees to the court are to the far right of the center. Herein lies Biden’s problem in appointing a Black woman to the court to appease his Black constituency. The last thing Black Americans need is another Clarence Thomas on the bench. It seems a Thomas-like Black woman is the only Black woman acceptable to McConnell, perhaps to Sinema and Manchin.

In the face of a filibuster led by McConnell, Sinema, and Manchin, will Biden fold and, as he did in 1991, give the Black community another Clarence Thomas.

Here we go again.

Harold Michael Harvey is the Living Now 2020 Bronze Medal winner for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is the author of a book on Negro Leagues Baseball, The Duke of 18th & Vine: Bob Kendrick Pitches Negro Leagues Baseball. He writes feature stories for Black College Nines. Com. Harvey is a member of the Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, HBCU and PRO Sports Media Association, and the Legends Committee for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. Harvey is an engaging speaker. Contact Harvey at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com.