• Sen. Roger Wicker said President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court pick will be a “beneficiary” of affirmative action.
  • Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement earlier this week, allowing Biden to pick a replacement.
  • Biden promised on the presidential campaign trail to appoint the first Black woman to the bench.

A Republican senator said President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court pick to replace Justice Stephen Breyer will be a “beneficiary” of affirmative action. 

The remarks from Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi come following Justice Stephen Breyer’s announcement that he will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term, paving the way for Biden to appoint a successor. Biden pledged to appoint the first Black woman to the nation’s highest court during a 2020 presidential debate. 

“I’m looking forward to making sure there’s a Black woman on the Supreme Court, to make sure we in fact get every representation,” Biden said, according to debate transcripts. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in a Wednesday press briefing confirmed that he remains committed to that promise.

The decision to appoint a Black woman to the bench has angered some conservatives. Minutes after news broke of Breyer’s retirement, a Fox News panel condemned the promise, calling the decision an act of “discrimination.”

Speaking in an interview on SuperTalk Mississippi Radio, Wicker decried Biden’s vow, claiming it may be “unconstitutional.”

“The irony is that the Supreme Court is at the very time hearing cases about this sort of affirmative racial discrimination while adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota,” Wicker said, referring to the Supreme Court’s decision to revisit the legality of affirmative action in colleges and universities.

Supreme Court Justices are nominated for lifetime appointments. Biden is expected to announce his choice in the coming days. 

Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, said last year that he is pushing for Biden to pick Judge J. Michelle Childs, who currently serves on the federal court in Clyburn’s home state. Other potential candidates for the seat include DC Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and California State Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger. 

Insider’s Brent Griffiths contributed to this report.

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