Joe Biden is resisting calls from President Donald Trump and even some fellow Democrats to release his list of potential Supreme Court picks seven months after he pledged to name the first Black female justice.

Some on the left suggest that outlining potential picks would help Biden build enthusiasm in the final weeks of the campaign, particularly after he already selected California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, making her the first Black woman on a major presidential ticket. Trump, meanwhile, is eager to comb through a list to find possible nominees who would bolster his false depiction of Biden as an extreme liberal.

Trump helped insert the Supreme Court squarely into presidential politics in 2016 by taking the unprecedented step of releasing a list of potential nominees before he was elected, a move that helped rally the conservatives who ultimately carried him to victory.

But some of Biden’s allies say a list won’t provide the same payoff for him and could hurt him by distracting voters from Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and give the president fuel to suggest Biden’s choices are too far left.

“Why play into Trump’s hands?” asked Karen Finney, a prominent Black Democratic strategist.

Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a Biden protégé and confidant, pointed to the former vice president’s 36 years in the Senate and his brand as a liberal pragmatist as assurance enough for voters.

“He doesn’t need to issue some lists in order for Democrats to be comfortable that they know his values and his priorities,” Coons said, arguing that voters of all stripes know Biden would elevate “highly qualified, mainstream jurists.”

Still, the issue represents a familiar tightrope for Biden. He’s a center-left establishment figure aiming for a broad ideological coalition to defeat Trump in an era when the loudest voices come from the political poles. On issues from health care to the climate crisis, progressives hammer Biden as too incremental while conservatives cast him as too liberal. A Supreme Court nomination is certain to amplify those dynamics.

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Trump offered a preview last week, challenging Biden to match his list of choices while sketching a caricature of “radical justices” he insisted would gut Second Amendment rights, remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and declare the death penalty unconstitutional. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a former Senate Judiciary chair, followed up Wednesday by urging Biden not to “hide” his intentions for the court.

On the left, the group Demand Justice wants to match the right’s intensity on judicial politics, while a second group, She Will Rise, is raising awareness about the possibility of a Black woman joining the high court.

Demand Justice has assembled a list of 17 Black women it says would make ideal justices. The list includes law professors, leading civil rights attorneys and jurists from lower federal courts and state supreme courts. But there are no names as prominent as the headliners on Trump’s list: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.

Demand Justice has launched a $2 million ad campaign targeting voters in Arizona, Michigan, …read more

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