On Sunday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz offered his take on President Joe Biden’s pledge to pick a Black woman for the forthcoming opening on the Supreme Court.
“The fact that he’s willing to make a promise at the outset, that it must be a Black woman, I gotta say that’s offensive,” the Republican senator said. “You know, you know Black women are what, 6% of the US population? He’s saying to 94% of Americans, ‘I don’t give a damn about you, you are ineligible.’”
Which, well, huh.
On the percentage of the population that Black women comprise, at least, Cruz is right. Just over 13% of the population is Black. Women represent slightly more than half the country’s population. So, 6% is roughly accurate for the percentage of Black women in the US.
But, we are not talking, really, about the general population here. Cruz is objecting to the fact that Biden is only considering Black women for the Supreme Court. Which means that the better metric to use for comparison is the racial and gender composition of the court.
And that’s where Cruz’s argument gets into a lot of trouble.
Here’s the math: There have been 115 Supreme Court justices in history. Of those 115, 108 were White men. That means that 94% of the justices on the Supreme Court have been White men, and that just 6% have been either a person of color, a woman or both. A Black woman has never served on the court.
(The seven non-White males who have served as justices: Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O’Connor, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett.)
Which, of course, turns Cruz’s argument totally on its head. Black people – and Black women in particular – have been vastly under-represented on the Supreme Court. And White men have been massively – and I mean massively – over-represented on the court.
Cruz is no dummy. He’s one of the brightest legal minds in the Republican Party – and a man who knows the Supreme Court backwards and forwards.
What he’s up to here is pure virtue-signaling for the Republican base. Cruz wants to cast Biden’s pledge to pick a Black woman as just another example of “woke” culture and identity politics. And he knows that the average person his message is aimed at won’t do even the most basic math I did above. They will likely simply see Cruz as fighting against a liberal system that makes being White and male something close to a crime. And that may accrue to Cruz’s benefit as he positions himself to again run for president.
But just because it might work for Cruz politically doesn’t make him right. He is, in fact, dead wrong.