This excerpt is from a piece that originally ran on January 27, 2022.
Rakim Brooks is the president of Alliance for Justice, a progressive advocacy organization focused on the courts.
President Joe Biden may have run as a moderate during the Democratic primary, but he has governed as the most progressive president since Lyndon B. Johnson. And, when it comes to the judiciary, he has been the most progressive president since Jimmy Carter. His more than 40 nominees to important appellate and district court seats have included eminently qualified civil rights lawyers, voting rights champions, public defenders and labor attorneys, and that includes several Black women who will be leading contenders for this nomination.
Though conservatives will remain in the majority, it is worth remembering that Biden’s choice could serve for three decades or more. A lot can change in that time. We have also seen throughout history that a single justice can make a significant difference, even in the minority. Justice John Marshall Harlan, who was often called “The Great Dissenter” during his time on the Supreme Court, left an impact that would shape the future of American jurisprudence for the better for generations. Justice Thurgood Marshall was often in dissent during his time on the court, but he gifted the nation a constitutional north star on matters of vital democratic importance by reminding us where we had come from. So, it is true that we will continue to have an increasingly radical 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court. And it will still be imperative that we expand the court to save our democracy. But the historic importance of adding the nation’s first Black woman justice to the Supreme Court — a nominee who will be dedicated to protecting human rights and equal justice under the law — should not be minimized. It’s a sign of incredible progress, and she will play a part in determining the course of “herstory.”