“This is a terrible mistake; history will record it as such. And it breaks my heart that it’s a black president.”
The words are those of Georgia Rep. David Scott, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Taken in the narrow context in which the statement is provided here, it could be viewed as a realistic assessment of Barack Obama’s failed presidency and the dim view of it history is likely to take. But Scott’s beef is not with Obama’s incompetence or failure to do the job he was twice elected to do. It’s his unwillingness (for a change!) to appoint controversial nominees to federal judgeships based entirely on the color of their skin.
Specifically, the CBC is unhappy that Obama hasn’t filled the federal bench with enough of the Democrats’ preferred picks, which is to say minority judges — which is to say, furthermore, that in some states, cases will be decided on their merits rather than on empathy. Oh, the humanity!
The Hill notes it’s not just Obama the black lawmakers are miffed at but his messenger, Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett met with handful of CBC leaders in a close-door session on Wednesday to tell them that the administration “had spoken” and the matter was now closed.
The aforementioned Rep. Scott was not at the meeting but approached Jarrett afterward to express his dissatisfaction with two nominees in particular. One had once supported a state bill to keep the Confederate battle emblem a part of Georgia’s flag. The other led the defense of the state’s photo ID law, which Scott claims is a statute designed “to keep black folks, as much as possible, from voting.”
Scott told the Hill:
I asked her specifically that they should be [withdrawn]. She just didn’t say anything.
Do you think George Bush would have been able to do this, or any white president would have been able to do this? No. The president should have said, ‘There’s absolutely no way I want to go down in history as putting these kinds of people into federal court nominations against my own African-American [people]’ … It’s a tragedy.
Scott needn’t fret. Obama’s decision to do the right thing this time is no guarantee against his returning to racial quotas. In fact, Jarrett assured as much in a comment she made after the meeting:
This is a constant work in progress. We’re very proud of our track record so far, but that doesn’t mean we’re not interested in always looking for new ways the bench can reflect the diversity of our country.