Chuck Schumer today voted against the confirmation of Marvin Quattlebaum for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. His reason? Quattlebaum is white.
The nomination of Marvin Quattlebaum speaks to the overall lack of diversity in President Trump’s selections for the federal judiciary. Quattlebaum replaces not one, but two scuttled Obama nominees who were African American.
Actually, Quattlebaum replaces Judge Cameron McGowan Currie who is white. Evidently, Schumer believes that if President Obama nominated a black to replace her, President Trump is obligated to nominate a black too. The notion is ludicrous.
Moreover, of the two African-Americans nominated by Obama for this slot, one was withdrawn because she twice lowered bail for criminal suspects who went on to commit homicide. The other nominee became the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.
As of February 14th, 83 percent of the President Trump’s confirmed nominees were male, 92 percent were white. That represents the lowest share of non-white candidates in three decades. It’s long past time that the judiciary starts looking a lot more like the America it represents.
Blacks make up about 4.5 percent of all lawyers in America. But because black admission to law school has increased in recent years, they are a smaller proportion of lawyers in the age group from which the federal judiciary is drawn.
Trump has nominated 87 federal judges. One is black. Based on black representation among lawyers in the reasonably eligible age group, we would expect Trump to have nominated around three blacks. The shortfall (two judges) is insignificant.
Moreover, Trump, like all modern presidents, likes to pick judges whose view of the law and the judicial role is more-or-less in line with his. It’s likely that the vast majority of black lawyers hold a view of the law and the judicial role that’s quite different from Trump’s.
Thus, the fact that Trump has only nominated one African-American so far can fully be explained by the very small number of eligible black lawyers whose view of the law and of judging is remotely close to Trump’s.
To be sure, more than one good, middle-age black lawyer holds views of the law and of judging that align with Trump’s. Thus, Trump could, consistent with his desire to nominate conservatives, indulge in race-based preferential selection to raise the number of black nominees. In other words, he could select blacks because they are black.
But judges should be selected based on merit (including, importantly, the merit of their judicial philosophy, as viewed by the president), not race. Schumer, in effect, is demanding that Trump discriminate in favor of blacks based on their race.
That’s how most Democratic politicians roll these days.
Fortunately, not all Senate Dems were willing to vote against Quattlebaum because he is white, though most were. The Senate confirmed him by a vote of 69-28.
Senator Tim Scott, the African-American who represents South Carolina, promptly congratulated Quattlebaum.