The Democrats are relishing the prospect of Joe Biden chalking up a win for his base this year when he gets the chance to nominate his first person to the Supreme Court. His supporters immediately moved to pressure him to keep his campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the court and a quick glance at the shortlist of potential candidates shows that he has no intention of disappointing them. But how much of a “win” will this really be in the minds of the public? A new ABC News/Ipsos poll out this week suggests that Biden and his party are once again failing to read the room. On the one hand, many people are losing faith in the Supreme Court because they believe that it’s now driven by political ideology. But when it comes to the topic of presidential nominations, a surprisingly large majority want the President to consider all of the best-qualified candidates rather than immediately winnowing the field to a small list of people based on nothing more than the color of their skin and the lack of a Y chromosome.
A new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds that a plurality of Americans view the Supreme Court as motivated by partisanship, while President Joe Biden’s campaign trail vow to select a Black woman to fill a high-court vacancy without reviewing all potential candidates evokes a sharply negative reaction from voters.
The ABC News/Ipsos poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, comes days after the most senior member of the Supreme Court, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, announced his retirement at the end of the current term. Breyer’s announcement provides Biden the opportunity to change the demographic makeup of the conservative-leaning bench.
During the spring 2020 presidential primaries, days before his set of big wins on Super Tuesday, Biden pledged to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, if elected.
It must have been painful for ABC News to have to publish those results. Liberal dogma would tell us that having a court that “looks like America” is not only important but what most people want to see. And perhaps many of them would be in favor of more racial and gender diversity, but not at the expense of compromising on experience and qualifications. More than three-quarters of respondents (76%) want Biden to “consider all possible nominees.” Less than a quarter (23%) want to see him carry through on his campaign pledge.
This plan isn’t even popular along the racial and political lines that you might have expected. Barely one-quarter of non-white respondents (28%) want Biden to restrict his choices to only Black women. He couldn’t even get a majority of Democrats to agree, with a 54-46 majority saying he should consider all possible nominees.
On a separate matter, a 43/38 plurality believes that today’s Supreme Court justices rule “on the basis of their partisan political views” rather than on the basis of the law. Honestly, I’m shocked that the number seeing the court as politically motivated isn’t even higher. Even the mainstream media almost universally describes the court’s members as “the three liberal justices” and the “six conservative justices.” Of course, that’s something I’ve been harping on for years. In an ideal world, most justices would read the Constitution and existing laws as they are worded and vote accordingly where possible. When questions arise that are not found in the Founders’ sources, it should be almost impossible to predict which justices will vote any given way. And yet on all of the truly politically divisive issues being debated today, you can almost always (though not 100% of the time) tell which way they will vote based on the party registration of the president who nominated them.
To be clear, I doubt that these results will influence Joe Biden’s final choice. He is buried far too deeply in the left-wing of his party these days to give a hoot about what 76% of the country thinks. After disappointing his base on so many other fronts, Biden is no doubt frightened of a mutiny in his ranks if he doesn’t base his choice on racial and gender stereotypes. Honestly, as long as the nominee has the requisite experience on the bench, I don’t much care who she is. But if he chooses someone with little or no judicial experience (and there’s at least one woman on the list who fits that description) then he will simply be making a mockery of the process for political purposes. Ironically, that’s precisely what Biden accused Donald Trump of when he was making his judicial selections.