President Biden nearly forgot to make his now pivotal vow to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court.
According to a book, Biden had to be reminded during a Democratic primary debate to make a public commitment.
Biden's promise has renewed relevance given a Supreme Court seat could open in a matter of days.
Rep. James Clyburn rushed backstage during a Democratic presidential primary debate to remind Joe Biden, then a candidate, to make public his private commitment that his first Supreme Court appointment would be a Black woman, according to a book published last year.
The episode has newfound relevance given that Biden is likely to name his first Supreme Court pick in a matter of days. Justice Stephen Breyer, the most senior member of the court's liberal wing, will soon announce his retirement, according to multiple reports.
"During the last commercial break, Clyburn hurried backstage. Remember to promise to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court, he urged the candidate. Biden, who was trying so hard to get his footing in the debate that he let slip that he'd just call [former President] Obama for a pep talk, was frightened of forgetting it again," CNN's Edward-Isaac Dovere writes in "Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats' Campaigns to Defeat Trump."
Biden then made his vow in response to the first question he received after the commercial break during the February 25, 2021, debate, the last one between the Democratic presidential hopefuls before the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday. Clyburn, an influential South Carolina Democrat and now House majority whip, announced his game-changing endorsement the day after the debate.
"The fact is, what we should be doing - we talked about the Supreme Court. I'm looking forward to making sure there's a Black woman on the Supreme Court, to make sure we in fact get every representation," Biden said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
Biden went on to win South Carolina and a handful of his rivals dropped out and endorsed him before Super Tuesday. Suddenly, Biden's campaign switched from a sad coda to decades of White House ambitions to just a showdown with President Donald Trump away from the White House.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated during a Wednesday press briefing that Biden remains committed to selecting a Black woman to serve on the highest court.
But Clyburn isn't done with Biden yet. The No. 3 House Democrat confirmed last year that he's pushing Judge J. Michelle Childs, who currently serves on the federal court in Clyburn's home state, to be Biden's pick.
Other potential candidates for the seat include DC Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and California State Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, among others.