Obama on Criticism of Lack of Diversity in SCOTUS Pick: I Didn’t Say I Needed a ‘Black Lesbian from Skokie’

Thursday at the University of Chicago Law School during a town hall meeting, President Barack Obama mocked the criticism that his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, did not add diversity to the bench.

Obama said, “The way I thought about diversity is not to think about any single seat as, oh, I’ve got to fill this slot with this demographic but, rather, if I’ve got a broad set of nominees to make — and this is true across the board — how do I make sure that I’m intentional throughout that process? So that the talent of every American, and every potential candidate, gets a fair look. And I have confidence that if I stick to that, if I do that, if I make sure that I’m broadening the search, broadening the pool, looking at a bunch of folks, even if they’re not going through the conventional paths, that I’ll end up — the process will result in diversity. And that in fact is what’s happened. I am, you know, not to brag, but I have transformed the federal courts from a diversity standpoint with a record that’s been unmatched.”

“We’ve got more African-Americans on the circuit courts than we ever had before. I’ve appointed more African-American women to the federal courts than any other president before. I’ve appointed more Latinos than any president before. I’ve appointed more Native Americans, more Asian-Americans. more LGBT judges than ever before. But at no point did I say, ‘Oh, you know what? you know, I need a black lesbian, you know, from Skokie in that slot. Can you find me one?’ You know, I mean, that’s just not how I’ve approached it. It turns out that if the process is fair and you are saying that it’s important that our courts are reflective of a changing society, you’ll end up with a really good cross-section of people who are excellent, and that’s who we’ve been able to appoint. And so when I look at Merrick Garland, that was the person that, you know, the difference between the Supreme Court is just a handful of seats come up at any given time. I appointed a Latino woman, another woman right before that. So, you know, yeah, he’s a white guy, but he’s a really outstanding jurist. Sorry.”

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