by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) on Sunday criticized President Biden’s handling of the Supreme Court vacancy that will be left by Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement as “clumsy at best.”
Biden promised to nominate the first black woman to the Supreme Court during the spring 2020 presidential primaries. Now, with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer retiring, Biden will have the opportunity to fill a vacancy on the High Court and says he plans to honor his promise.
“I would welcome the appointment of a Black female to the court,” Collins said during an appearance on ABC’s This Week. “I believe that diversity benefits the Supreme Court. But the way that the president has handled this nomination has been clumsy at best. It adds to the further perception that the court is a political institution like Congress when it is not supposed to be.”
Host George Stephanopoulos then asked: “You say that it’s clumsy. But isn’t, as Senator Durbin pointed out, isn’t it exactly what President Reagan did when he said he would appoint a woman to the Supreme Court? Isn’t it exactly what President Trump did when he said he would appoint a woman to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?”
Collins replied that it “isn’t exactly the same” because “what President Biden did was as a candidate, make this pledge. And that helped politicize the entire nomination process. What President Reagan said is, as one of his Supreme Court justices, he would like to appoint a woman. And he appointed a highly qualified one in Sandra Day O’Connor.”
A new ABC News/ Ipsos poll found that 76 percent of Americans want Biden to consider “all possible nominees,” while only 23 percent want him to automatically follow through on his promise to nominate a black woman.