‘Defund the Police’ Activist Among Names to Replace Justice Breyer

'Defund the Police' Activist Among Names to Replace Justice Breyer Civil rights leader Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund speaks Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By Eric Mack | Wednesday, 26 January 2022 09:12 PM

Among the Black women being bandied about for President Joe Biden's nomination to fill the Supreme Court seat of retiring Justice Stephen Breyer is a civil rights lawyer who has back the defund the police movement.

Lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill, 59, was mentioned by The Associated Press and number Democrats, progressives in particular, as a candidate. Ifill is president a director of counsel at the Legal Defense Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Biden vowed during the 2020 president campaign debates to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, because it was "time" for a Black woman to have "representation."

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., an avowed Black Lives Matter activist, tweeted: ".@POTUS you promised us a Black woman on the Supreme Court. Let's see it happen."

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, mentioned Ifill specifically among those that should be "weighed and considered," tweeting:

"On behalf of the constituents of Texas' 18th Congressional District and Texas, I thank him for his leadership and wish him all of the best. I strongly believe that his retirement presents the perfect opportunity for President Biden to follow through on his campaign promise to appoint the first Black Woman to the Supreme Court. While there are many qualified contenders to fill the vacancy of this seat on the court, the candidacy of Ketanji Brown Jackson, Leondra Kruger, J. Michelle Childs, Wilhelmina 'Mimi' Wright, Eunice Lee, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi and Sherrilyn Ifill should all be weighed and considered."

Ifill has been open in support of the defund the police movement after the death of George Floyd and amid 2020 election year riots, telling "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert":

"It's been interesting to see how this phrase 'defund the police' makes people very anxious and very nervous. This is our opportunity to do something that's long overdue, which is to fundamentally re-imagine what public safety looks like in this country.

"What we have done is we have turned over armed law enforcement officers the right to enter our communities to solve a set of community conflicts that actually don't require an armed officer. Rather than turn the entire public safety regime over to armed law-enforcement officers, we need to look at that funding, reduce that funding, and use it to support these other services.

"I think the anxiety is about the phrase and actually not anxiety about the concept. We should be looking at budgets. We should recognize that this over-reliance on police has given us a regime that we can see is not working."

Ifill tweeted June 7, 2020, shortly after Floyd's death sparked nationwide riots:

"Drastically reducing police funding shld not only result in those funds going to other existing social svc agencies (b/c some may also be dysfunctional). This is a chance to re-imagine public safety w/support for new community-based measures that can be transformative."

President Joe Biden had suggested at times during his campaign he would support redirecting police funding, but he denies ever officially calling to defund the police. Just this week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged "underfunding" of police in some cities has fueled a crime surge.