By Rod Dorilas
The Washington Times
Reports of Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement spurred immediate reaction by progressive liberals. Within moments, politicians wasted no time in demanding that President Biden make good on his campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to take Breyer’s place. Good intentions aside, promising to nominate the next Supreme Court justice on the basis of her skin color and gender severely undermines the nominee’s lifelong achievements — and those of all Black Americans. As an attorney and son of Haitian immigrants, I understand the desire to see a Black woman on the bench, but it should not come at the expense of her dignity.
Judges must, above all things, be impartial in the way they treat the parties before them. They must be learned in the laws that they apply. And they must have a strong understanding of the proper function of a judge under our constitutional system. These are the things we should be talking about every time there’s a vacancy on the federal bench. But instead of putting judicial philosophy and professional qualifications front and center, Mr. Biden is setting the stage for a three-ring identity politics circus. Race and gender are the star attractions, judicial philosophy be damned.
What Democratic leadership is doing right now has nothing to do with putting a Black woman on the court for the sake of “representation.” It’s pure political theater. They are setting the stage for a spectacle in which Democrats are the woke heroes and Republicans are the bigoted villains. They are teeing up a brawl in the Senate Judiciary Committee over race and gender that will make Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings look like a cake walk. They will portray any attempt to genuinely press the nominee on her judicial philosophy, her approach to statutory interpretation and her professional record as racist and sexist. Any attempt to honestly evaluate the nominee’s qualifications for the job — something the committee should be doing with every judicial nominee — will be attacked as an assault on the candidate because of the attributes that should matter least, her race and sex.
The whole spectacle will be a sickening inversion of the way Democrats have treated Justice Thomas for decades, attacking him not for his conservatism, but for his blackness. After all, the progressive left will tolerate virtually anything except a Black man who dares to think for himself. I know this from experience. Like Justice Thomas, I’ve been called an “Uncle Tom” for arguing conservative viewpoints. And like many minorities who have achieved academic success, I’ve been asked by “well-meaning” progressives whether I was part of an affirmative action program.
In many ways, we are the sum total of the experiences we have in life. Our family, our friendships, our faith and our experiences all help shape our character and our convictions. There’s a lot to be said for the way our immutable characteristics affect who we are. But race and gender are not the sum total of our being. Moreover, they do not and should not automatically determine what a person believes. If we are ever to achieve equality in America, it will be because we have finally embraced Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a society in which people are judged for the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.
Now more than ever, Justice Thomas’ dissent in a case on racial preferences ring true: “The Constitution abhors classifications based on race, not only because those classifications can harm favored races or are based on illegitimate motives, but also because every time the government places citizens on racial registers and makes race relevant to the provision of burdens or benefits, it demeans us all.” Whoever Mr. Biden nominates, she deserves treatment more dignified than the patronizing sham progressives are preparing for her.
Rod Dorilas is a navy combat veteran, first-generation American and Republican congressional candidate who served as counsel to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, 2020-2021.