CBC Doesn’t Anticipate an African-American Pick for Supreme Court

Posted April 28, 2010 at 5:01pm

Updated: 7:22 p.m.

Black Democrats in Congress aren’t holding their breath for President Barack Obama to tap an African-American for the Supreme Court.

“We’re not sure this president is ever going to nominate another African-American,” D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said after the Congressional Black Caucus huddled Wednesday afternoon to discuss Obama’s pending high court pick.

Instead, she said the caucus is focusing on whether the president’s choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens displays concern for CBC priorities, namely civil rights.

So far, only one name on Obama’s reported short list of potential nominees is African-American — former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah Ward Sears — and she is not among those mentioned most frequently as top contenders.

The CBC has scrapped repeatedly with the Obama administration over the last 15 months, with the lawmakers complaining that the White House hasn’t adequately focused on the worse-than-average economic problems facing their communities.

And while Holmes Norton said the CBC has no immediate objections to any of the names that Obama is reportedly eyeing for the bench, “none rise up more than others such that we feel we should come forward at this time.” She said the caucus would continue its own vetting of the list.

Holmes Norton said she wants Obama to take his time in making the decision, lest he allow Senate Republicans to force him to “trim his sails” in the interest of getting the next justice seated by the start of the court’s fall term.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said a nominee’s views on campaign finance and abortion are more important than his race but that he would like to see another African-American on the court.

Conyers said the court’s only black member – Justice Clarence Thomas – “doesn’t represent the views of most African-Americans.”