Black women’s groups, who consider themselves President Obama’s “top supporters,” are firing back at him after he announced federal appeals judge Merrick Garland to succeed the late justice Antonin Scalia. “The fact that he would once again look over black women for this specific appointment is an absolute slap in the face to his top supporters,” Avis A. Jones-DeWeever, the founder of the Exceptional Leadership Institute for Women, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Two other people on Obama’s short list for the nomination were Obama’s were federal appeals court judges Paul Watford, a black man, and Sri Srinivasan, who would have been the court’s first Asian-American justice and the first Hindu to sit on the bench.
Barbara Arnwine, executive director at the Transformative Justice Coalition, warned that black women wouldn’t rally around Garland, saying that Obama “does not give the respect to his most ardent supporters.” Indeed, exit polling data show black women were a crucial voting bloc for Obama’s two election victories. In 2008, 68 percent of black women turned out at the polls, and 2012 that number grew to 70 percent. A whopping 96 percent of black women voted for Obama in 2012. “The passion you saw around Sotomayor you will not see around this pick,” Arwine added.
In the past, Obama has chosen African-American women for some of the nation’s highest posts. Notably, he selected Loretta Lynch for Attorney General and Susan Rice to be ambassador to the United Nations. The Obama administration downplayed race and gender as factors in the president’s decision, which White House press secretary Josh Earnest characterized as merit-based. In a statement, Earnest said Obama chose Garland “for one reason and one reason only, and that is simply that he believes that Chief Judge Garland is the best person in America to do that job.” Also not rallying around Obama’s pick are Senate Republicans, making Garland’s future as a nominee uncertain at best. Top senators have vowed to reject even holding hearings let alone voting on whether to confirm him as a justice.
Read the full story at The Associated Press.