An Open Letter to Joe Biden: Nominate Kamala

Mr. President,

Every day the President is confronted with major issues that affect the life and prosperity of our nation and our planet. The decisions that the President makes often are collaborative with input needed from many players and the Constitution provides that some decisions require consent from another branch of government. However, there are moments when the decision belongs to the President and the President alone and these issues are often of the greatest consequence and shape the very identity of our nation. You are now faced with such a moment as Justice Breyer has announced his intention to retire from the United States Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has been at times the solitary mover of progress and it has often been the roadblock to advancement. It is the one branch of government that does not find itself accountable to voters, to the media, or to the wrath of political donors. The Supreme Court is accountable only to the Constitution of the United States of America and has the ultimate authority over what that Constitution means. This should mean that the awesome task of nominating and confirming a Justice should be taken seriously and not treated as another partisan exercise. However, this has not been the case in the last several nomination battles as Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney-Barrett have been confirmed in a process that has been totally outside of regular order. Furthermore, organizations like the Federalist Society have removed all pretense of judicial impartiality by poisoning the process with right-wing ideology disguised as constitutional reasoning. Regrettably, politics has become part of the process and will remain part of the process until the political will exists to enact the reforms necessary to restore public faith in the Supreme Court.

It is vital that we engage with reality as it exists, not as we wish it existed. The reality is our system of government is threatened by forces who do not believe in representative government or American democracy. The reality is that these forces are poised to gain a meaningful amount of political power over the next year and will exert that power to meet their ends of disrupting American democracy. The reality is that it is not guaranteed that these forces can be defeated without extraordinary action. Therefore, I am presenting an extraordinary action that could prove immeasurable in preventing our slide towards illiberal democracy.

Nominate Vice President Kamala Harris to fill this Supreme Court vacancy. The obvious should be stated that Harris is qualified for this position, she understands the constitution to be a living document, and she generally can be counted on as a liberal vote despite justified criticism of her past positions on criminal justice. There is something that is perhaps less obvious that must be said, the public generally does not expect nor at this current moment desire to see you seek re-election to a second term as President. It is assumed then by the public and by our party that the next Democratic nominee for President will be Vice President Harris. I believe given the increased risk of permanent and irreversible damage to the American system should authoritarian forces be successful in electing their candidate for President, it would be worse than irresponsible to have Vice President Harris lead our party into a general election.

The Vice President was unable to continue her 2020 campaign for President into 2020, dropping out well before her home state’s primary who’s polling placed her outside any hopes for victory. Vice President Harris, despite having a lower profile than yourself has been rated as significantly more unpopular by virtually every pollster. Candidly, I would not be surprised if the Vice President were the first Democrat to lose the popular vote in 20 years. Some of the opposition she faces is because of her race and gender, undoubtedly it must be in a country with as much fraught racial history and racism denialism as ours. However, it would be dishonest to suggest that all of her opposition comes from misogynists or racists.

This is not meant to disparage or attack the character of the Vice President; she would be a champion for the rights of so many and would likely establish a legacy rivaling the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should she be nominated and confirmed. The Supreme Court allows an individual to make changes to our society not possible from the White House or Congress, it would not be a demotion but a vote of confidence in the Vice President’s ability to interpret law.  However, it is my sincere belief that she would be unable to win a general election for President of the United States even in the most favorable of circumstances. Nominating Vice President Harris would not only fulfill your promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, but it would also allow you to pick a successor who would have a greater chance of success in a campaign for President. It is my hope that you would select Rep. Karen Bass of California or Rep. Barbara Lee of California or Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin to succeed the Vice President. These distinguished women have shown themselves to be dedicated public servants, empathetic campaigners, and more than capable of being President of the United States. Furthermore, they have been champions of your agenda as President and progressive causes throughout their careers.

You have often stated that we are in “a battle for the soul of America”, I would counter that for the last 60 years we have been in “a war for the soul of America”. It is imperative that we are all doing what we can to pull this country back from the brink if it can in fact be pulled back. I do not know that the Vice President would accept a nomination to the Supreme Court, but I believe that she should be asked. Mr. President, ultimately the choice of a Supreme Court nominee is yours and I hope that you will consider all of your options.


Reece Ellis

St. Louis, Missouri