Biden promised Rep. Clyburn to nominate Black woman to SCOTUS

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Panel weighs in on Justice Breyer’s decision to retire at the end of his Supreme Court term on ‘The Story.’

President Biden will soon be faced with the choice of whether to make good on a promise about the Supreme Court he made to Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., to secure Clyburn’s endorsement during the 2020 South Carolina primary.

After having performed poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden needed to win South Carolina in February 2020 if he hoped to have a shot at the Democratic nomination. Clyburn, the House majority whip and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, offered to endorse the faltering candidate but reportedly demanded that he make a public pledge to place a Black woman on the high court.

Rep. and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., looks on as President Biden speaks after Clyburn announced his endorsement for Biden at Trident Technical College Feb. 26, 2020, in North Charleston, South Carolina. 
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

After having spoken to Biden about it the night before, Clyburn became increasingly frustrated that Biden was neglecting to make the promise from the debate stage on Feb. 25, 2020, according to journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes in their book “Lucky.”

During a break in the debate, Clyburn reportedly went backstage to remind Biden of what they discussed.

“So Clyburn gets up from his seat in the debate hall in the audience, and he makes a beeline for the exit,” Allen said on the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast last year.

“He says, ‘Look, I told you that I wanted you to say that you were going to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court. You haven’t done it yet. You’ve had a bunch of opportunities. Don’t you dare leave this stage without doing it.’”

President Biden speaks at the Ministers’ Breakfast hosted by National Action Network and Rev. Al Sharpton Feb. 26, 2020, in North Charleston, South Carolina. 
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Later in the debate, Biden mentioned his promise in an answer regarding his personal motto and the biggest misconception about him.

“Everyone should be represented,” he said. “The fact is, what we should be doing — we talked about the Supreme Court. I’m looking forward to making sure there’s a Black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure we in fact get every representation. Not a joke.”

The next day, Clyburn endorsed Biden, who went on to win the state’s crucial primary election.

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 22, 2021.
(Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

After becoming president, Biden appointed Clyburn’s daughter, Jennifer Clyburn Reed, as federal co-chair of the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC), which is a federal commission aimed at alleviating poverty in Appalachia.

When news of Justice Stephen Breyer’s imminent retirement broke Wednesday, members of the progressive “Squad” quickly responded by calling for a Black woman to take his place.

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