Senate Majority Leader chuck schumer (DN.Y.) tweeted an awkward mea culpa on Thursday after an earlier Senate speech glossed over a man whose legacy is central to American history and jurisprudence.
Schumer proclaimed that the Supreme Court of the United States was made up of “all white men” before 1981. This is false. Thurgood Marshall was the first black judge; he joined the highest court in the land on August 30, 1967 and retired on October 1, 1991.
Schumer’s speech was designed to support the president that of Joe Biden ‘Historic’ pledge to appoint black woman to SCOTUS headquarters who is in the process of being freed by the courts Stephane Breyer. At first, Schumer said there were two black justices on the Supreme Court.
“There have been 115 judges who have served on the court since 1789,” Schumer told the Senate. “Only five of them have been women. None until 1981. Only two have been African American, but never, ever has there been an African American woman.
Schumer noted that black women “still make up barely 6% of the federal bench.”
Schumer’s reference to 1981 as the transformation year for the SCOTUS dyno was accurate. Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor in July after promising to select the court’s first female judge; O’Connor took office on September 25, 1981.
Schumer’s wheels crumbled when he started confusing gender with race.
“Until 1981, this powerful body, the Supreme Court, was made up entirely of white men,” Schumer said. “Imagine. America wasn’t all white men in 1981, or ever. Under President Biden and this Senate majority, we are taking historic steps to make the courts more like the country they serve by upholding highly qualified and diverse candidates.
Parts of this statement were incorrect. The court was not made up of “all white men” until 1981. It was made up of “all white men” before Marshall joined the court in the summer of 1967. Schumer remembered O’Connor in his calculation but apparently forgot about Marshall, who was the first person to break the “all-white” Brothers of Justice. O’Connor broke the notion of judges as “brothers”.
.@SenSchumer“Until 1981, this powerful body, the Supreme Court, was composed entirely of white men. To imagine. America wasn’t all white men in 1981, or ever. Under President Biden and this Senate majority, we are taking historic steps to make the courts more like the country they serve. » pic.twitter.com/PrEjoLrmPH
— The Hill (@thehill) February 3, 2022
Schumer was quick to correct his mistake on Twitter.
“Sorry for misrepresenting myself earlier today,” the senator tweeted. “Of course, I remember the dedication and legal excellence that Thurgood Marshall brought to the Supreme Court.”
Sorry for expressing myself poorly earlier today. Of course, I remember the dedication and legal excellence that Thurgood Marshall brought to the Supreme Court.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 3, 2022
Schumer went on to note that a quarter of black women who currently serve as federal judges were appointed this year by the Biden administration and Democrats’ extremely thin control of the Senate.
The New York Times reported in 1991 that Marshall’s departure from the court at age 82 would be a “death blow to liberals”.
Marshall had been appointed to the Supreme Court by Lyndon Johnson just a few years after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act.
the Time called Marshall “a living hero of the civil rights movement and one of the last liberal voices on the Supreme Court” at the time. The newspaper Noted that Marshall’s 24-year term “ended in growing anger and discouragement as he watched the ascendancy of a conservative-dominated bench”.
Public pressure is mounting for the then-president George H. W. Bush to replace Marshall with another member of the black community. This led in part to the appointment of Justice Clarence Thomasthe second black person to serve in the field.
marshal wrote a famous reprimand of the then-shifting ideological makeup of the Supreme Court justices then assembled in a dissent published the same day as his retirement announcement.
“Power, not reason, is the new currency of this Court’s decision-making,” Marshall wrote.
Before joining the courtsupported Marshall both Major iterations of Brown v. Board of Education. The court in those cases said that “separate but equal” public facilities were inherently unequal because they were separate — and therefore violated the aptly named Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The case, which has gone down in American history as one of the most positively received case law announcements by the High Court, was won in part through the efforts of a man who was refused admission to a law school because of his skin color.
[image of Marshall via MPI/Getty Images; image of Schumer via U.S. Senate video feed/The Hill]
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