Schumer omits Thurgood Marshall from SCOTUS history in speech praising Biden

While waxing poetic about President Joe Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made an embarrassing gaffe in which he effectively removed from history the storied tenure of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, a Black man who ascended to the panel in 1967, as Fox News reports.

Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Schumer proudly declared, “The president’s pledge to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court is historic,” adding, “[u]ntil 1981, this powerful body, the Supreme Court, was all White men. Imagine. America wasn’t all White men in 1981, or ever.”

Schumer’s reference to the year 1981 was presumably a nod to former President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to serve as the first female to occupy a seat at the high court, as the New York Post noted.

Observers, however, were naturally quick to point out that Schumer had made a glaring omission by not including in his mangled timeline the service of Justice Marshall, who sat on the high court from the time of his nomination by former President Lyndon B. Johnson until the date of his retirement in 1991.

The New York Democrat ultimately admitted his mistake in a tweet that read, “Sorry that I misspoke earlier today. Of course, I remember the dedication and legal excellence that Thurgood Marshall brought to the Supreme Court.”

That mea culpa was not enough to blunt the criticism that poured in from social media, with a tweet from the Florida Republican Party opining that Schumer “needs to check his history book. He forgot about Thurgood Marshall who was a trailblazer and the first Black American appointed to the Supreme Court,” a sentiment followed by the hashtag BlackHistoryMonth.

Conservative commentator and author Dinesh D’Souza was similarly biting in his reaction, taking to Twitter to state that Schumer “forgot about Thurgood Marshall. He erased this black Supreme Court justice from his whitewashed recollection. Funny how Democrats forget the names and identities of blacks once they no longer have any use for them.”

As the Post further noted, director of the Renew Democracy initiative, Uriel Epshtein, highlighted a broader problem with Schumer’s pronouncement, saying, “It’s not only that he failed to recognize that Thurgood Marshall was nominated in 1967. It’s the general approach that identity matters above all else – including jurisprudence.”

It seems clear that Schumer, as was aptly stated by Robert George of Bloomberg Opinion, “need[s] some remedial education in #BlackHistoryMonth, and no doubt a large number of his colleagues do as well, if they are ever to venture beyond pandering and strive for substance as well as accuracy in their approach on such matters.