By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – President Joe Biden says he plans to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court after Justice Stephen Breyer retires. Biden told America his plan to make this historic move if given the chance during his 2020 campaign. Efforts to diversify the bench have reached the highest court and local attempts are ongoing.

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“I’ve made no decision except one: the person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience, and integrity. And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court,” said Biden.

When many of our current justices were born, there were only three law schools in the country that accepted Black people. Local judges say this is a move that’s long overdue.

“We are finally catching up and that catch-up didn’t start until 1954. We’re catching up on hundreds of years of not having opportunities,” said Judge Gary Jackson.

Judge Jackson, who recently retired from his role at Denver County Court, is chair of Colorado’s Coalition on Judicial Diversity. While progress in diversifying the bench has been made locally, judges say we still have a long way to go in Colorado

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“In October of 2018, we were on the verge of having zero Black district court judges and appellate court judges,” said Jackson.

“I had a personal call to action. This was an embarrassment for Colorado, an embarrassment for the Bar Association, an embarrassment for Black people that we did not have a Black district court judge or appellate court judge,” Jackson said.

In Colorado, Denver’s mayor and the governor have since made it a priority to get Black women on the bench.  Judge Olympia Fay was appointed to the Denver County Court in January 2015. She told CBS4:

“I am thrilled to know that a Black woman will be nominated to be the next Supreme Court justice. Here in Colorado, Mayor Hancock and Governor Polis have made it a priority to appoint black women to serve as judges in Colorado courts. These tremendous strides have been crucially important in advancing the diversity and representation needed in our judicial system.”

Jackson says skin color doesn’t affect rulings but increases faith in the system.

“I think if a person feels that there is a person that looks like them, making a decision, that instills trust. That instills competence,” said Jackson.

“It is someone that you feel you have competence in and who can understand what your problems are and where you have been,” Jackson added.

Some state leaders disagree with Biden’s choice. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, tweeted Wednesday:

Jackson says the president’s decision is not solely dependent on sex and race.

“There are a multitude of Black women who are great, great candidates for this position,” said Jackson.

“Whoever the Black woman chosen to be a Supreme Court justice is, is making a statement that she is capable of making this happen, judicial decisions, that have been made by Supreme Court justices throughout history. And these decisions are going to be based upon the law, based upon reason, and not based upon political ideology,” Jackson said.

Biden says he plans to meet with the candidates as early as next week. He intends to announce a nominee by the end of February.

Tori Mason