Fox News host Tucker Carlson criticized President Joe Biden’s federal judge nominations, calling them “race-based” and illegal.
“The point of diversity, equity and inclusion, as you’ve often heard, is to wind up with a leadership class that, quote, ‘looks like America,’” Carlson said Feb. 6 on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “Now, we think you should hire on the basis of merit. But, that’s kind of an appealing idea, the people who run the country should look like the country.”
But Carlson said that is not what Biden has done.
“Because no administration has ever looked less like America, just by the numbers, than the Biden administration,” Carlson said. “It’s not about making the administration look like America, it’s about discriminating against certain classes of people who don’t vote for them.”
This claim is now “provable,” Carlson said. We investigated whether the Biden administration is the least representative of the American public and found it isn’t.
A Fox News spokesperson pointed us to a tweet from Jeremy Carl, a senior fellow at the conservative Claremont Institute that contained numbers focusing on white men and Black women that Carlson cited on his show.
“Out of 97 federal judges confirmed under Joe Biden, the total number of white men: five, 22 are Black women,” Carlson said, crediting Carl. “So this is race-based hiring.”
Biden has made the federal judiciary more representative of the U.S. population
Carlson’s raw numbers are pretty much right based on data from the Federal Judicial Center.
But these appointments have made the judicial system more representative of U.S. demographics, not less. And even then, the federal judiciary’s demographic makeup does not completely match the country’s. For example, there are 16 states with no federal judges of color.
The vast majority of the nearly 800 active federal judges are white. White men comprise about 46% of active federal judges and only 29% of the total U.S. population. Black women represent nearly 6% of the federal judiciary and about 7% of the U.S. population.
“President Biden is proud to have delivered historic progress concerning strengthening the rule of law and standing up for all of our citizens; both are core American values,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told PolitiFact. He said Carlson’s statement lacks credibility.
While campaigning, Biden promised to create an administration that looked like the U.S. His Cabinet is more multiracial and gender-diverse than the Cabinets of his two predecessors.
About 52% of Biden’s 25 Cabinet members are men and 48% are white, according to Inclusive America, a nonprofit that advocates for making the government more diverse. Men make up close to 50% of the U.S. population, and white people make up about 59%.
This is compared with former President Donald Trump’s initially confirmed Cabinet, which was 83% white and 83% male. Former President Barack Obama’s first Cabinet was 68% male and 54% white according to a PolitiFact analysis.
The Miller Center at the University of Virginia tracked “100 key staff positions in the Executive Office” during Biden’s first 300 days as president. These positions included the chief of staff, senior advisers and directors.
The group found 44% of the staffers were men, and 61% were white.
“My research shows record level diversity, how could it possibly look less like America?” said Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, the author of the Miller Center’s report and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank. “To the contrary, a staff that includes more women and non-whites looks more like the broader population base.”
For nearly two centuries, only white men served in government positions of power
Outside of the specific demographic makeup of Biden’s administration, Carlson’s claim fails to account for the country’s history. For nearly two centuries, women and Black people went completely unrepresented in the executive and judicial branches of government, despite being a part of the overall U.S. population.
It wasn’t until the 1900s that women and Black people began filling positions in the president’s Cabinets and the federal judiciary.
In 1928, President Calvin Coolidge appointed Genevieve Rose Cline to the U.S. Customs Court, now the U.S. Court of International Trade, becoming the first female federal judge.
In 1937, William Henry Hastie became the first Black federal judge, after being appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the Federal District Court in the Virgin Islands.
In 1945, Frances Perkins became the first woman in a presidential Cabinet. Roosevelt appointed her to be secretary of labor.
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the first Black person to serve in the Cabinet. Robert Weaver served as secretary of housing and urban development.
In 1966, Constance Baker Motley became the first Black woman in the federal judiciary, appointed by Johnson.
In 1976, Patricia Roberts Harris became the first Black woman in a presidential Cabinet, serving as housing and urban development secretary under President Jimmy Carter.
Carlson said “no administration has ever looked less like America, just by the numbers than the Biden administration.”
This is wrong. Researchers have touted Biden’s administration as one of the most diverse in the country’s history, thus looking more like the U.S. population.
The claim also fails to take into account that for nearly two centuries, only white men were represented in the Cabinet and the federal judiciary. Even though women and people of color lived in the country.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire!