Pat Buchanan, 1971: Give the SCOTUS ‘Black Seat’ or ‘Jewish Seat’ to a Catholic

Created: June 16, 2009 15:52 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Trevor Griffey digs up a 1971 memo written by Pat Buchanan, then an adviser to President Richard Nixon, arguing that the administration needed to get ready for the 1972 election by giving preferential treatment to white ethnics.

My recommendation is now and has been that the Administration — in placing minority members in visible jobs — stop concentrating on the “media’s minorities” (Blacks, Mexican Americans, Spanish-speaking) which are tough to crack, almost solid Democratic — and begin focusing on the large ethnic minorities (Irish, Italians, Poles, Slovaks, etc.), the big minorities where the President’s name is not a dirty word, where the President’s personal beliefs and political actions are more consistent with their own.

When we begin to recognize and act on the idea that there are as many Italian-Americans in the Bronx as there are Black Americans in Harlem, we will better begin to serve the President’s interests.

Later in the memo, Buchanan suggests a specific appointment that the president could use to prove that he cared about white ethnics: a seat on the Supreme Court.

[I]nstead of sending the orders out to all our other agencies — hire blacks and women — the order should go out — hire ethnic Catholics preferable women, for visible posts. One example: Italian Americans, unlike blacks, have never had a Supreme Court member — they are deeply concerned with their “criminal” image; they do not dislike the President. Give those fellows the “Jewish seat” or the “black seat” on the Court when it becomes available.

It’s striking how little Buchanan has changed in the intervening 38 years. In one of his anti-Sonia Sotomayor columns, he argued that the nominee had no more right to a seat than a “Polish- or Portogeuse-American” and that Hispanics would support her because “people often come out to vote for one of their own.”

(Hat tip: Rick Perlstein)