Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shut down a reporter after being asked how many black staffers he employs and how they are "informing" his decision on President Joe Biden's forthcoming Supreme Court nominee.
At a press conference on Tuesday, reporter Pablo Manríquez, a correspondent for Latino Rebels, asked McConnell how black female staffers are advising him on Biden's future nominee.
"How many black women do you have on staff and how are they informing your decision to move forward with the SCOTUS nomination?" Manríquez asked, adding that he wanted every senator present to respond to his question.
McConnell, unable to hear the question, had Manríquez repeat it. Then, once he heard it, McConnell shut down the premise of the question.
"Yeah — actually, I haven’t checked. We don’t have a racial quota in my office," McConnell responded. "But I’ve had a number of African-American employees, both male and female, over the years in all kinds of different positions, including speechwriter."
The implication of the question suggested that McConnell may be unqualified to thoughtfully determine whether a black female jurist is qualified for the Supreme Court because he is a white male.
However, considering that McConnell has been voting on federal judges for more than 35 years and is himself a lawyer, McConnell is more than qualified to make determinations about any judicial nominee — no matter their skin color or gender.
What is the background?
The question came after Biden, upon Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announcing his retirement, promised that his forthcoming opportunity to fill a Supreme Court vacancy will result in the "the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court."
The promise has drawn criticism from people who liken it to affirmative action. Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley even called the promise "unconstitutional" because Biden's promise essentially eliminates men and non-black women from consideration if his nominee will be "the first black woman" ever nominated to the Supreme Court.
Women reportedly under top consideration for the nomination include:
- Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who sits on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals;
- Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court; and
- J. Michelle Childs, a district court judge in South Carolina.
Biden is expected to announce his nominee by the end of February.