Kamala Harris’ election to the vice presidency has, in her words, broken “one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country.” In post-election public remarks, Harris thanked the generations of women who paved the way for her success, including “the Black women who are, often, too often overlooked but who so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy.” The Biden administration will likely have another barrier-shattering opportunity—appointing a Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A Black woman has never been nominated to the highest court. According to the book “Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court,” President Ronald Reagan was first to place a Black woman on a Supreme Court shortlist, Judge Amalya Lyle Kearse of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Today, Kearse, who has served four distinguished decades on the bench, is one of only five Black women judges out of 179 currently confirmed to the federal circuit courts of appeal—where 12 of the last 13 Supreme Court justices were drawn. At the district level, there are only 42 Black women judges out of 673. To make matters worse, in the last four years, only two Black women have been appointed to the federal bench out of almost 200 federal appointments (approximately 1/5 of the federal judiciary). This underrepresentation of Black women in the federal judiciary is not due to a lack of talent but, rather, due to a lack of imagination and political will among those in power. As Harris explained, Black women are “too often overlooked.”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]