Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) speaks to reporters following the weekly Senate lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., September 21, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Tuesday that he didn’t believe President Biden’s pledge to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court without reviewing all potential candidates was “inappropriate,” despite what many critics have said. 

“I heard a couple of people say they thought it was inappropriate for the president to announce he was going to put an African American woman on the court. Honestly, I did not think that was inappropriate,” McConnell said at a Lexington Commerce event in Kentucky, The Hill reported.

He added: “President Reagan promised to put a woman on the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor. President Trump promised to put a woman on the Supreme Court when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, so I’m not complaining about that.”

McConnell’s comments come after Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said earlier this month that Biden’s vow is an “insult to black women.”

“The fact that he’s willing to make a promise at the outset, that it must be a Black woman, I gotta say that’s offensive,” Cruz said on his podcast, Verdict with Ted Cruz. “You know, you know Black women are what, 6 percent of the US population? He’s saying to 94 percent of Americans, ‘I don’t give a damn about you, you are ineligible.’”

Black women accounted for 7 percent of the U.S. population in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“And he’s also saying — it’s actually an insult to Black women,” Cruz added. “If he came and said, ‘I’m gonna put the best jurist on the court’ and he looked at a number of people and he ended up nominating a Black woman, he could credibly say, ‘OK I’m nominating the person who’s most qualified.’ He’s not even pretending to say that. He, he’s saying, ‘If you’re a white guy, tough luck. If you’re a white woman, tough luck. You don’t qualify.’”

Biden first promised to nominate the first black woman to the Supreme Court during the spring 2020 presidential primaries. Now, with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer retiring, Biden will have the opportunity to fill a vacancy on the High Court and says he plans to honor his promise.

“I’ve made no decision except one: The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character experience and integrity,” Biden said. “And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It’s long overdue in my view. I made that commitment during my campaign for president, and I will keep that commitment.”

McConnell on Tuesday said that whomever Biden nominates, she will be treated with more respect than Democrats gave Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation process. Kavanaugh faced a tumultuous confirmation process in 2018 after Christine Blasey Ford claimed he had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh denied the claims.

“I think one thing I can promise you, for sure, if you remember the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation, that this confirmation will not occur like that,” McConnell said. “I think we believe the Supreme Court nominee ought to be respectfully treated, thoroughly vetted and then voted upon.”

Meanwhile, an ABC News/ Ipsos poll from late last month found that 76 percent of Americans want Biden to consider “all possible nominees,” while only 23 percent want him to automatically follow through on his promise to nominate a black woman.

Just 28 percent of nonwhite Americans want Biden to consider only black women for the soon-to-be open seat, the poll found. Even a majority of Democrats — 54 percent — prefer that Biden weigh all possible nominees.

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