President Obama spoke to teachers and students at the University of Chicago Law School during a town hall discussion about the Supreme Court and U.S. judicial system on Thursday. He said that he has brought more diversity to the country’s courts than ever before. But he explained to those in attendance that he did it by choosing candidates based on merit, not by deciding “I need a black lesbian from Skokie in that slot.”
We’ve got more African Americans on the circuit courts than we ever had before. I’ve appointed more African American women to the federal courts than any other president before. I’ve appointed more Latinos than any president before. I’ve appointed more Native americans. More Asian Americans. More LGBT judges than ever before.
But at no point did I say: ‘Oh, you know what? I need a black lesbian from Skokie in that slot. Can you find me one?’ I mean, that’s just not how I’ve approached it.
Obama said that he doesn’t see bringing diversity to the courts as trying to fill a particular vacancy with someone from a particular demographic, rather he looks at a large pool of candidates that includes people from all demographics and evaluates at each candidate fairly.
It turns out that if the process is fair and you are saying that it’s important that our courts are reflective of a changing society, you’ll end up with a really good cross-section of people, who are excellent. And that’s who we’ve been able to apoint.
The president then went on to discuss his decision to nominate Merrick Garland for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court left by the unexpected death of Antonin Scalia. He first pointed out that he has appointed two women to the Supreme court during his presidency. Then went on to say why he finally decided that Garland was the right person for the job.
Yeah, he’s a white guy, but he’s a really outstanding jurist. I’m sorry. I mean, you know, I think that’s important.
Obama has faced criticism from some fellow left-wingers who say Garland isn’t liberal or diverse enough for their liking.
Watch Obama’s remarks here:
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