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A professor of American studies in Boston says Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should announce that he will appoint former first lady Michelle Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court to “honor” the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Writing in The Hill, Dr. Roger House, Ph.D., who teaches at Emerson College in Boston and publishes VictoryStride.com, a multimedia library resource on African American history and culture, writes that Biden must quickly make the announcement after the nation honors Ginsburg in the coming days following her death Friday from pancreatic cancer.
“The nominee must be someone who advances the cause of racial and gender justice and quells Republican efforts to bum-rush a replacement,” House wrote, suggesting that the former VP should select Obama for judicial activism rather than on any legal experience or constitutional expertise.
“What it means is that the Biden campaign cannot simply propose to nominate a woman of traditional qualifications for the court. If it is to make history, then it must spotlight a woman who embodies the dream of the civil rights movement. That person is former first lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama,” House wrote.
A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, she worked for a few years at a Chicago law firm, Sidney & Austin, where she met future husband and president, Barack Obama. While at the firm, Michelle Obama specialized in marketing and intellectual law. Later, she would take a position as an executive at a local activist organization tied to President Bill Clinton’s AmeriCorps, and then as an associate dean at the University of Chicago.
And while she also sat on a number of boards in the years before Barack became president, Michelle Obama has never sat on a bench as a judge nor does she have much litigation experience — meaning her appointment, were it to happen, would likely be strictly political, as House further indicates in his Friday op-ed.
“As the nation grapples with protests for racial justice, Obama is best positioned to symbolize the Afro-American promise. Her roots in the authentic experience of the Black urban migration connects her story to the story of pioneer civil rights figures such as Mary McLeod Bethune,” who “rose from humble origins on a cotton plantation in South Carolina to found the Bethune-Cookman Institute in Daytona Beach, Fla., and to become an adviser to former President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression,” House noted.
The college professor went on to claim that Michelle Obama is “singularly qualified” to replace Ginsburg because of “her well-known intellectual acumen and dedication to the goals of equal justice with fairness.”
By comparison Ginsburg, one of the first women to attend and graduate from Columbia Law School, had extensive federal court experience before being nominated and confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton.
After spending several years advocating and litigating for women’s rights, Ginsburg was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. She served 13 years in that post before she was elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she remained until her death this week.
Nevertheless, House continued to argue that Obama’s biggest qualifications for the high court is her skin color and gender.
“As the only African American first lady, Obama fostered one of the most welcoming and inclusive White House cultures in history and spoke out frequently on behalf of the rights of women and girls,” he writes.
“Moreover, she brings insight as a Black woman of dark complexion who struggled to be confident in a society that values whiteness and lightness,” House continued.
“The Biden campaign must appreciate that proposing Michelle Obama for the Supreme Court would ignite enthusiasm in the Black community and among suburban women. Moreover, it would put pressure on vulnerable Republican senators who might be solicited to support yet another problematic Trump nominee to the Supreme Court,” House noted.
For his part, President Trump says he is considering two women who are currently sitting on federal courts: Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa.
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