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The possibility of President Obama's next Supreme Court Justice being black

Legal Director of NAACP LDF
Legal Director of NAACP LDF
NAACP LDF official photo

Could the NAACP LDF Director be America's next nominee?

As I pour over these oral arguments presented on behalf of the two same-sex marriage cases currently before the United States Supreme Court, DOMA and Prop 8, trying to figure out which way the court will swing on considerably one of the most important decisions of the 21st century; I continue to reflect on what the future holds for arguably the most influential nine-member body in the world?

As I diligently prepared for my appearance(s) on Fox News Radio programs around the country, breaking down what the justices meant by their remarks and trying to read the minds of these distinguished jurists; I began further examining the courts that went before them, from the [John] Marshall Court that established the principle of judicial review in the 1800's to the [Earl] Warren Court, which witnessed another Marshall amongst its justices – Thurgood Marshall.

America's first appointed African American Justice, Marshall was the architect behind Brown v Board of Education, which was argued before the Warren Court 13-years prior to his appointment to the court. He founded the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1940, during a time when the nation's aspirations for equality and due process of law were stifled by wide-spread, state-sponsored, racial inequality; and became an icon for a nation of blacks who were subject to Jim Crow laws and social inequalities.

Now, the seventh such President and Director-Counsel of the LDF, Sherrilyn Ifill, also a Baltimore resident like Marshall, looks to fill the shoes of America's premiere attorney – possibly in more ways than one? The 50-year old mother of three, who I am honored to have worked with on issues such as voting rights for former felons in Maryland, has made a name for herself much the same Marshall did in the early 1900's.

She was a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, the same as Marshall; and could be positioned to be America's next Supreme Court Justice - if President Obama is serious about playing political hardball?

Currently having a 5-4 conservative majority, which is unlikely to change during the remaining term of President Obama, the President is likely to face a tough vote on his next nominee – who will probably end up replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Wanting to find a liberal justice to replace her, and not knowing what the 2016 Presidential elections could mean for achieving that, Justice Ginsburg is likely to step down long before the last day of Obama's second term. And therein lies a problem democrats could have in getting the 60-vote majority needed to avoid an almost certain filibuster by the GOP.

However, while it is almost certain to see a filibuster with some merit come before the American people regarding a liberal white justice, Republicans would be more leery in challenging a black appointee, appointed by a black president – with such a pivotal national election to follow, where they will be courting the black and Hispanic vote?

And Ifill is certainly a very credible candidate that would give the Obama administration a feather in their cap that is sorely needed amongst blacks who are still waiting for their first black president to do something for them; not to mention what it would mean for Democrats who have yet to have a black Justice appointed since Marshall's appointment by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967.

Too say it's long overdue would be an understatement, and despite her lack of judicial prowess on the bench, Ifill would certainly make for a distinguished jurist that would make this nation, and her predecessor Marshall, proud to be, or have been, an American!

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