Rep. Jim Clyburn says a Black woman Supreme Court pick is of higher priority than VP

The longtime representative from South Carolina says a Black woman VP is more of a 'plus' than a 'must'

(L-R) Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with U.S. Rep. and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) as Clyburn announces his endorsement for Biden at Trident Technical College February 26, 2020 in North Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As the nation waits to see if Joe Biden decides to go with a Black woman for his veep pick, the highest-ranking Black congressman said he believes placing a Black woman on the nation’s highest court will be even more valuable.

Congressman Jim Clyburn, the House Majority Whip and longtime Democratic lawmaker from South Carolina, told PBS Newshour‘s Judy Woodruff Friday that it is of higher priority to have a Black woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court than it is to have a Black woman who is vice president of the United States.

Clyburn, the third-most powerful Democrat in the House chamber, maintains that Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election, choosing an African-American woman as his running mate is more of a “plus” than a “must.”

“The VP is good on style, but, on substance, give me an African-American woman on the Supreme Court,” said Clyburn, who has represented South Carolina’s 6th district since 1993. “That’s where we determine how our democracy will be preserved.”

READ MORE: The Brotherhood: Meet the Black men of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign

Newsweek reports that Biden will announce his choice for running mate in the first week of August. Among the names of Black women being tossed around in political and public circles are Sen. Kamala Harris, former White House national security adviser Susan Rice, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass and former Georgia House minority leader Stacey Abrams.

Sen. Kamala Harris
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois are also being considered for the second-in-command slot. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who ran in the Democratic primary earlier this year, pulled her name from consideration in the midst of demonstrations against police brutality in June, saying that she thinks Biden should pick a woman of color.

Biden, who was President Barack Obama’s vice president, has pledged to pick a woman as his running mate and to select a Black woman, specifically, to serve on the Supreme Court, should he win the White House in the November contest.

READ MORE: House approves Clyburn proposal to rename Voting Rights Act after John Lewis

Clyburn expressed that it would be “foolhardy” if focus on Biden’s choice for VP gets too much attention.

“I long for an African-American woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court,” Clyburn expressed. “It’s a shame that we have had three women to sit on the United States Supreme Court, and no one has ever given the kind of consideration that is due to an African-American woman.”

Judge Thurgood Marshall (left) in discussion with statesman Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States of America, following Marshall’s appointment as a member of the Supreme Court, the first African-American to hold such a post. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Chief among the reasons that he feels a Black woman needs to be in the Supreme Court is a 2013 ruling by the high court that allowed states with a history of employing harsh voter suppression tactics to be able to change election laws without the federal government’s approval.

The 5-4 vote altered the contents of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, to which Clyburn feels is an example of a decision where a Black female justice would have an influence.

“This Supreme Court has neutered the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” the congressman said. “And so I am very concerned about the composition of the United States Supreme Court.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

Loading the player...