GOP Senator Pans Biden Court Pick as “Beneficiary” of “Racial Discrimination”

Sen. Roger Wicker predicts no Republican votes for Biden’s not-yet-named nominee.

Sen. Roger Wicker on a Congressional visit to Kyiv, Ukraine.Pavlo Bagmut/Ukrinform/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

The Onion headline writes itself: White Man From South Thinks Black Woman Getting Unfair Advantage. In this instance, it’s Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, who told a local radio host that the first Black woman named to the Supreme Court will be a “beneficiary” of affirmative action in getting the job. “This new justice will probably not get a single Republican vote,” Wicker said, according to the Mississippi Free Press.

President Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman to the highest court is ironic, according to Wicker, because the Court will soon take up two cases about affirmative action in college admissions. “Supreme Court is at the very time hearing cases about this sort of affirmative racial discrimination,” Wicker said yesterday on SuperTalk Mississippi Radio, “while adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota.” 

Wicker did not remark on the great advantages that have helped him ascend to the Senate. Wicker was born in segregated Mississippi, where his father, a county prosecutor, would go on to be a state senator and judge. Wicker followed in his footsteps as a legacy admission to the University of Mississippi law school, and got his first taste of national politics as a 16-year-old page for virulent segregationist Rep. Jamie Whitten (D-Miss.). Wicker just might have benefited from, as he put it, “affirmative racial discrimination.” Today, we call that white privilege. Just 11 of 100 sitting senators are people of color—the most diverse Senate ever. White privilege surely has something to do with that.

Wicker’s comments illustrate the racial hierarchy he benefited from. In replacing Justice Stephen Breyer, a white man, with a Black woman, he bemoaned the transition “from a nice, stately liberal to someone who’s probably more in the style of Sonia Sotomayor.” The white man is considered stately, but the Latina woman he usually agrees with is apparently not. And as the Free Press‘ Ashton Pittman points out, Wicker didn’t complain of affirmative action when Trump said he’d replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a woman, following in the steps of Ronald Reagan, who promised to nominate the Court’s first woman, eventually appointing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

It’s only the bad kind of affirmative action when certain people get it.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate