Biden Tells Black Voters He’ll Pick ‘Progressive’ Supreme Court

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden told Black voters the balance of the Supreme Court was at stake in his November rematch against Republican Donald Trump as he sought to shore up his standing with a key part of his electoral coalition.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Biden, at a rally in Philadelphia, highlighted student debt, voting rights, affirmative action and abortion rights as areas where the high court’s conservative majority has negatively impacted the Black community, casting the support of Black voters as crucial to reshaping the court.

“The next president, they’re going to be able to appoint a couple justices, and I’ll be damned,” Biden said Wednesday. “If in fact we’re able to change some of the justices when they retire and put in really progressive judges like we’ve always had, tell me that won’t change your life.”

Biden’s comments come with the Supreme Court again facing increasing scrutiny amid a controversy over Justice Samuel Alito. Alito is under fire over the display of flags associated with far-right causes that flew over his homes in Virginia and New Jersey. The justice on Wednesday said he would not recuse himself from cases involving Trump and defendants accused of attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Earlier: Alito Rejects Democrats’ Calls to Step Away From Trump Cases

Biden assailed Trump, saying the presumptive Republican nominee was lying about his administration’s record and pandering to Black voters to gain their support, criticizing his rival for using “neo-Nazi” rhetoric and for questioning former President Barack Obama’s citizenship.

“Let me ask you, what do you think he would have done on Jan. 6th if Black Americans had stormed the Capitol? I don’t think he’d be talking about pardons,” Biden said. “This is the same guy who wanted to tear gas you as you peacefully protested George Floyd’s murder.”

Biden spoke at a raucous launch event for a new outreach effort to Black voters, where his campaign will partner with organizations to promote voter education and registration as well as strengthen voter-protection efforts, according to the campaign. The new push will also deploy surrogates to media outlets, particularly those owned or catering to Black voters.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were joined by some of the Democratic Party’s most prominent Black leaders as they unveiled the initiative, highlighting the urgency the campaign faces to shore up the president’s standing with a voting group critical to his November reelection hopes. Joining them were Maryland Governor Wes Moore and Representative Steven Horsford, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Wednesday’s visit comes amid a stretch that has seen Trump dominate political headlines as his criminal trial in Manhattan nears a verdict, surpass Biden in monthly fundraising for the first time in April and retain his lead in key swing states including Pennsylvania. Biden spoke as jurors in Trump’s trial over hush-money payments deliberated in New York.

Improving his standing with Black voters is a priority for Biden, who needs them to turnout in battleground states in November. Black voters drove Biden to victory in 2020, with 92% support, according to Pew Research Center data but a May Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll of voters across seven swing states found Biden’s lead over Trump among registered Black voters at 68% to 21%.

That softening support has been driven by disappointment with progress on issues including student debt and voting rights, as well as Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war and pocketbook issues.

Earlier: Biden Faces Pro-Palestinian Silent Protest at College Graduation

Black unemployment is up almost 1 percentage point over the past year from a record low of 4.8% in April 2023. To bolster his message on the economy, Biden is also attending an event at a Black-owned small business in Philadelphia with other business leaders to discuss the “administration’s commitment to increasing Black wealth,” the campaign said.

In his speech, Biden touted economic gains for Black Americans under his administration, saying the racial wealth gap was the lowest in 20 years because of his efforts and that Black small businesses were starting up at the fastest rate in 30 years.

Biden has intensified efforts to court Black voters in recent weeks, hosting a White House event celebrating the 1954 Supreme Court ruling to desegregate public schools, meeting representatives from Black fraternities and sororities and speaking to the NAACP in Michigan.

A commencement address this month at Morehouse College, a historically Black school in Atlanta, was met with public signs of dissent over his Mideast policies, showcasing Biden’s challenges.

Trump has also stepped up his appearances before Black voters, including a rally in the heavily Democratic South Bronx last week.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.