In his search for a new Supreme Court nominee, President Joe Biden has said he will nominate a Black woman. That has drawn criticism in some quarters. Shouldn’t a candidate be considered solely on the merits?
That’s a hard question. On one hand, of course a justice should be chosen on the merits. But that shouldn’t – and doesn’t – exclude Black women. As Mr. Biden said in his announcement, there have long been Black women of “extraordinary qualifications, character, experience, and integrity” in the judiciary. Why haven’t they been chosen?
For me, something crystalized this week in an odd way. Football (of all things) gave me a different lens.
Brian Flores was, until last month, head coach of the Miami Dolphins. By all accounts, he did an excellent job, bordering on exceptional. Two years in a row, he took a team with middling talent to the cusp of the playoffs. One Sports Illustrated column rated him the third-best coach in the team’s 45-year history.
On Wednesday, he sued the NFL, saying teams looking for head coaches interviewed him just to comply with a rule that requires interviewing candidates of color. He called one interview a “sham.” Meanwhile, white coaches have been hired right and left in a league with only one Black head coach.
How is Mr. Flores still out of job? Stephen Holder of The Athletic writes: “You can encourage and even incentivize people to do the right thing. But what you cannot do is make them want to do the right thing.”
One can argue about Mr. Biden’s approach. But Mr. Flores’ situation points to how hard it can be for even the most qualified Black candidates – whether in coaching or the court system. In that context, perhaps Mr. Biden just thinks he is doing the right thing.