When news broke of Justice Stephen Breyer’s expected retirement on Wednesday, one of the biggest questions President Biden confronted right away was whether he planned to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court as he had promised during his presidential campaign.
Biden confirmed Thursday during remarks with Breyer that he will nominate a Black woman to the court.
But for some civil rights leaders, that was a question they already knew the answer to.
Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton said he recalls that in at least one private setting since Biden took office, the President reiterated to Sharpton his commitment to his pledge of appointing a Black woman to the bench.
“He brought it up that … he’s going to keep his word if the opening comes up,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton, who said he has already reached out to the White House since the news of Breyer’s retirement broke on Wednesday, said he planned to push the White House to keep pushing on voting rights reform.
“We’re glad to have a Black woman on the bench that’s qualified but that doesn’t mitigate voting rights,” he said. “Voting rights and police reform must be dealt with. They’ve not checked the box.”
Biden’s campaign promise was such a “bold commitment,” said Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, that he too, has not questioned whether the President would ultimately keep it. Morial said one of his primary concerns was that the White House move with speed through the confirmation process.
Both Sharpton and Morial told CNN that for now, they did not plan to publicly make an endorsement of any candidate, saying that the President should be given space to come to what will ultimately be his final decision.
“It is fair he should be given room to make the selection as long as she is qualified,” Sharpton said. “As long as he keeps his word, we should not get into an internal fight on which one of the picks, when we’ve never had a Black woman. We should not undo what could be a great moment.”
Morial echoed that it would be “counter-productive to get into the game of speculation because many of the names that had been recommended are acceptable.”
“I’m not recommending anyone at this time because I think that the President should be given the prerogative to make a decision,” he added.