Since vowing to have the backs of Black Americans, President Biden has committed to prioritizing racial equity and delivered on several campaign promises.
During a presidential debate in 2020, then-candidate Joe Biden promised that, if elected, he would appoint the nation’s first Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court. When the opportunity came upon Justice Stephen Breyer’s announcement that he would retire at the end of the high court’s 2022 session, Biden quickly assembled a White House search committee to help him sift through a list of Black female judges. After announcing Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee, the Biden administration worked diligently to get enough U.S. senators to vote to confirm her nomination. During his remarks at a ceremony to commemorate Justice Jackson’s historic confirmation on the White House South Lawn, President Biden called it a day of “hope and progress.”
In addition to ensuring Black female representation on the high court, President Biden has also nominated and confirmed a record number of Black judges to the federal bench. Since taking office, Biden has had 11 Black women confirmed to the federal circuit courts, the most by any U.S. president. For example, in December, U.S. Magistrate Judge Dana Douglas of Louisiana made history as the first Black woman to serve on the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana.
Prior to taking office, only eight Black women have ever served on the appellate courts. Per a White House official, of the 97 judges nominated and confirmed under the Biden administration, nearly half are women of color.
As a candidate, Joe Biden called for all marijuana convictions to be expunged. In October, President Biden partially fulfilled that campaign commitment when he announced presidential pardons for thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law. In a statement announcing the move, just a month before the 2022 midterm elections, Biden said, “no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana.” The president also called on the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. attorney general to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. Rescheduling, something drug policy advocates have been pushing for, would reduce or potentially eliminate criminal penalties for possession of marijuana.
$1 billion loans for Black-owned small businesses
As part of its agenda to build and support Black-owned businesses, the Biden-Harris administration has announced billions of dollars for public-private investments in targeted communities. The administration notably tapped Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the charge on the administration’s announced commitments to support Black businesses. In July, Harris announced the Biden-Harris administration’s new private-public program, the Economic Opportunity Coalition, to align tens of billions of dollars in investments in underserved communities.
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