In an embarrassing gaffe on the Senate floor Thursday, Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer claimed that there had never been an African American Justice on the Supreme Court before 1981, completely forgetting Civil Rights Icon Justice Thurgood Marshal, who joined the court in 1967.
“Amazing! Until 1981, this powerful body, the Supreme Court, was all White men. Imagine. America wasn’t all White men in 1981, or ever. Under President Biden and this Senate majority, we’re taking historic steps to make the courts look more like the country they serve.” Schumer said.
One snarky Twitter user quipped “It is the small moments like this one that I treasure most about black history month”
Many conservatives were quick to comment on Schumer’s gaff, with Conservative media personality Dinesh D’Souza stating on Twitter that “[Schumer] forgot about Thurgood Marshall. He erased this black Supreme Court justice from his whitewashed recollection. Funny how Democrats forget the names and identities of blacks once they no longer have any use for them.” The Republican Party of Florida, meanwhile, tweeted that Schumer “needs to check his history book. He forgot about Thurgood Marshall who was a trailblazer and the first Black American appointed to the Supreme Court. #BlackHistoryMonth“
Schumer’s gaffe came in the midst of a speech defending President Biden’s pledge to elevate an African American woman to the Supreme Court. “A quarter of all African American women who sit on the bench were nominated by this administration.” This is actually pretty close, as the actual number, according to 538, is 24%. Schumer went on to claim that the Biden administration and Senate are “taking historic steps to make the courts look more like the country they serve by confirming highly qualified diverse nominees”
Schumer attempted to salvage his remark on Twitter a few hours later, once the story had broken, saying “Sorry that I misspoke earlier today. Of course, I remember the dedication and legal excellence that Thurgood Marshall brought to the Supreme Court.” Thurgood Marshal is best known for his role in arguing Brown V. Board of Education before the Supreme Court before President Johnson elevated him there permanently in 1967. He remained on the court until 1991 when he retired and was succeeded by Clarence Thomas.
You can watch the whole thing here: