Diversifying the Supreme court


Jesse Schuerer

A drawing of a gabel. the hammer that judges use to gain the attention of a court room.

Jesse Schuerer, Reporter

The Supreme Court has been dominated by upper-class, white men in the 231 years since its inception. There have been five women (one of which is Latina) and two Black men, along with seven Jewish justices. 

The first minority to be appointed to the supreme court was Thurgood Marshall, a civil-rights lawyer from Baltimore Maryland. Marshall was nominated to the court by -President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967. Marshall had a stellar reputation already, as he had won 29 of the 32 cases he’d argued before the supreme court in the past. Marshall dedicated himself to his lifelong fight against discrimination, retired from the court in 1991, and died two years later. 

  Marshall paved the way for others to follow in quick succession; the first woman Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981, Clarence Thomas, the second African-American man in 1991, and Ruth Bater-Ginsburg in 1993. Two more women, Siona Sotomayor and Elena Kleine- who were appointed by President Obama months apart in 2009 and 10 respectively, and finally Amy Coney-Barret, the most recent addition to the court after Justice Bater-Ginsburg passed away in 2020.

Despite how far the Highest Court in the land has come, there’s still a wide disparity in the court’s margins. As of now, there are three women and one black man serving as justices; Justice Thomas and Justice Sotomayor are the only Justices of color.

Recently Justice Stephen Breyer announced that he is retiring, leaving his seat open for President Biden to nominate a new Judge to his seat. Because of Biden’s promise to appoint more Black women to positions of power, the new Justice is expected to be a woman of color, which would be a historic first.

Only one woman of color, Justice Sotomayor, has held a seat on the court, and she was only appointed in 2009. If Biden were to appoint a Black judge it would be the first time in history that two black justices held seats at the same time. Also being the first time two women of color held seats as well.

The Supreme Court has come a long way since 1967 but it still has a long way to go in terms of representing the whole of the United States. Some have argued that Joe Biden declaring to appoint more Black women to positions of power is unfair because they only make up roughly six percent of the population. On the other hand, 93 percent of black women voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 election according to PBS. Black women undoubtedly play a critical role in the Democratic party and Biden appointing one to the Supreme Court would represent a large portion of his voters.