by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Conservative lawmakers and political commentators have resurfaced President Joe Biden’s previous filibusters against a black woman nominee for a U.S. appeals court amid his administration’s pledge to nominate the first black woman to the Supreme Court.
During former President George W. Bush’s administration, then-Sen. Joe Biden twice opposed and filibustered the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2003 and 2005 despite her confirmation that year. Recalling the president’s previous move, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley tweeted Monday Biden should “make amends” and nominate 72-year-old Brown, who retired from the D.C. Circuit in August 2017.
“If he wants to unite the country, Biden should nominate Janice Rogers Brown. Committed constitutionalist who is also an African-American woman,” the Missouri senator wrote. “Sadly, Biden personally filibustered her historic nomination to DC Circuit twice when he was in Senate. Now is the time to make amends.”
Biden, who has become exceedingly more critical of the Senate filibuster rule and has decried it as a relic of Jim Crow segregation laws, was not the only senator at the time to oppose Brown’s nomination. In 2005, then-Sen. Barack Obama opposed Brown, saying she “is not simply a judge with very strong political views, she is a political activist who happens to be a judge.”
Brown was born to Alabama sharecroppers and grew up in the segregated South, later raising her child as a single mother through law school. Her ideology shifted over time toward more conservative principles, and she notably wrote opinions opposing affirmative action and supported limited abortion laws. …
… Democrats also filibustered Bush’s 2001 nomination of Miguel Estrada to the D.C. Circuit. As a favorable nominee among conservatives, Estrada would have been the first Latino appointed to that bench but rescinded his name from consideration after being blocked for two consecutive years.