Progressive Groups Call on Biden to Appoint First-Ever Black Woman Solicitor General

12.04.20

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 4, 2020

CONTACT: [email protected]

PROGRESSIVE GROUPS CALL ON BIDEN TO APPOINT FIRST-EVER BLACK WOMAN SOLICITOR GENERAL

Signatories of the letter include Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Demand Justice, Demos, Indivisible, Just Democracy, People’s Parity Project, and She Will Rise

WASHINGTON, DC— On Friday, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Demand Justice, Demos, Indivisible, Just Democracy, People’s Parity Project, and She Will Rise released a letter to President-elect Biden urging him to make history by appointing the first Black woman to be Solicitor General of the United States.

The letter references Biden’s pledge during the campaign to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, stating “while we do not yet know if or when you will have the opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice, you do have an opportunity to immediately make history by appointing the first Black woman to be Solicitor General, a position commonly referred to as the ‘Tenth Justice.’”

Only one woman has ever been confirmed as Solicitor General, and only four attorneys of color have ever been confirmed. The letter calls the appointment of the first Black woman Solicitor General “an important step towards future efforts to elevate brilliant Black women in the legal profession,” noting that several previous solicitors general have gone on to serve on the federal bench. It also notes that elevation of a Black woman to Solicitor General is a critical first step in remedying the lack of diversity on the Court; only four of the 179 Circuit Court judgeships are currently held by Black women, and no Black woman has ever served on the Supreme Court.

A copy of the letter can be found below.

December 4, 2020

Dear President-Elect Biden,

We write to urge you to nominate a Black woman to be the next Solicitor General of the United States.

We recognize and applaud the commitment you have already made to increasing representation for Black women at the highest levels of our legal system. During your presidential campaign, you pledged to nominate the first Black woman Supreme Court justice in United States history. As you recognized, it is long past time for a Black woman’s perspective to be represented at the Court. While we do not yet know if or when you will have the opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice, you do have an opportunity to immediately make history by appointing the first Black woman to be Solicitor General, a position commonly referred to as the “Tenth Justice.”

In the 150-year history of the Solicitor General position, only one woman has been confirmed to the job, and only four attorneys of color. Appointing the first-ever Black woman Solicitor General of the United States would be an important way for you to underscore your commitment to making a more just, equal, and representative legal system in the United States. Given the overwhelmingly white and male tilt of the group of lawyers who regularly argue before the Supreme Court, it would send an important message about the need for a more diverse group of voices to be heard at the nation’s highest Court. Since 1999, fewer than a half dozen Black women have argued before the Supreme Court, and it can be years between seeing a Black woman do so.

A Black woman as Solicitor General also would be an important step towards future efforts to elevate brilliant Black women in the legal profession, especially since several previous Solicitors General have gone on to serve in the judiciary. Black women are systematically underrepresented in positions of power in our judicial system. Only four of the 179 Circuit Court judgeships are currently held by Black women, and no Black woman has ever served on the Supreme Court. President Trump has nominated the least racially diverse group of judges in decades––of his 220-plus judges, only two are Black women––deepening our legal system’s crisis of representation and making bold action all the more urgent. The underrepresentation of Black women at the highest levels of the legal profession is all the more outrageous because the Supreme Court makes decisions on issues that have such a disproportionate impact on women, Black Americans, and Black women in particular––from voter suppression laws, which target voters of color and often do so successfully, to the Affordable Care Act, which has significantly narrowed, though not erased, the gap in health care coverage for Black Americans.

If you commit to nominating a Black woman Solicitor General, you could select from a plethora of highly-qualified Black women who have spent their careers advancing justice, including: Elise Boddie, Rutgers Law School; Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger; Melissa Murray, NYU Law School Professor; Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel, NAACP LDF; and Christina Swarns, Executive Director of the Innocence Project.

As we work together to rebuild and restore our justice system, we urge you to take this groundbreaking step toward justice and equality and nominate the first-ever Black woman Solicitor General.

Sincerely,

Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation

Demand Justice

Demos

Indivisible

Just Democracy

People’s Parity Project

She Will Rise

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