President Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court — which appears to be on the verge of being fulfilled — has generated howls of criticism from some conservatives.
Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, railed against the idea on his show Wednesday evening, accusing Mr. Biden of forgetting about “this law stuff” and focusing instead on identity politics as a measuring stick for qualifications to be a justice.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, said that in his search for diversity, Mr. Biden’s was using “a criterion that the court itself has found unconstitutional for public educational institutions and unlawful for businesses.”
But it may be that the president’s critics have a short memory. In 1980, Ronald Reagan used a similar demographic promise as he fought for support among female voters in his battle for the White House against Jimmy Carter.
At a news conference in October of that year — just weeks before Election Day — Reagan promised that, if elected, he would name the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court.
“It is time for a woman to sit among our highest jurists,” Reagan said. “I will also seek out women to appoint to other federal courts in an effort to bring about a better balance on the federal bench.”
After he was elected, Reagan followed through, selecting Sandra Day O’Connor, then a judge in Arizona, for a seat on the court. (Barry Goldwater, a conservative Republican senator from the state, had recommended her for the job.)
Reagan received criticism from the right for the nomination, but not because of her gender. Anti-abortion activists at the time said they feared she would uphold Roe v. Wade, the landmark court ruling legalizing abortion.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the head of the Moral Majority at the time, asserted that Ms. O’Connor supported “the biological holocaust” of abortion and said the nomination would be a disaster for men and women.
Justice O’Connor went on to vote in favor of Roe V. Wade.