With the retirement of 83-year-old Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breuer, President Joe Biden has the opportunity to make history by appointing the first ever black female justice to the U.S. highest court. Here are the three contenders for the top spot on the presidential list:
D.C. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Biden had already promoted Jackson last year from her previous position as a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., where she remained from 2013 to 2021. Jackson currently serves as a district judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, arguably the second strongest federal court in the nation.
Jackson, 51, received her law degree from Harvard and, accordingly, worked as a clerk for Breuer. She is also married to the brother-in-law of former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. She has two daughters with her husband Patrick Jackson, whom she married in 1996.
During her time as a judge, Jackson ruled on many high-profile cases. She was involved in the decision to order former Trump White House adviser Don McGahn to submit to a House subpoena as part of the impeachment inquiry against then President Donald Trump. the last 250 years of recorded American history are such that presidents are not kings.”
Jackson also signed a recent opinion that the Trump White House documents must be released to a special committee on January 6.
California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Krueger
Kruger served under President Barack Obama as Acting First Deputy Solicitor General from May 2010 to June 2011, where she presented 12 Supreme Court cases. During her tenure at the Department of Justice, Kruger received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award in 2013 and 2014, the agency’s highest honor.
The 45-year-old judge was a secretary to the late Justice John Paul Stevens, who served on the Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010 and died in 2019.
She was also the youngest person to be appointed to the California Supreme Court when then-Governor Jerry Brown appointed her in 2014, where she still sits as an Associate Justice. In this court, Krueger delivered several notable opinions, including the prohibition for law enforcement to search women’s purses without a warrant.
Krueger also supported a California law requiring law enforcement to collect DNA samples and fingerprints from people arrested or convicted of felonies.
South Carolina, U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs
Childs, 55, is reportedly backed by Biden House majority supporter James Clyburn, who will replace Breyer. Last month, Biden nominated a South Carolina circuit court judge to the DC Court of Appeals, but the appointment is still pending.
With a South Carolina law degree, Childe doesn’t have the Ivy League education that eight of nine current judges have, a breath of fresh air that promotes her nomination as an advantage in making the Democratic Party look less elitist.
Child spent ten years in private practice and served as a judge in the court of the state of South Carolina. Also during her tenure, she was Deputy Director of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation and Commissioner of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Others under consideration:
Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner serves on the Georgia District Court and is the sister of voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams.
District Judge Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright, Judge of the Minnesota Federal District Court.
District Judge Eunice Lee, District Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
District Judge Candace Jackson-Akivumi, District Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Sherrilyn Ifill, an attorney, recently announced plans to step down as president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Holly Ayesha Thomas, Judge, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
What about Kamala Harris?
Last year, amid turmoil at the White House, there were rumors that President Joe Biden could fire Kamala Harris as his vice president, appointing her to the Supreme Court should a vacancy arise. With the news of Breyer’s retirement this week, rumors resurfaced that she could join the court.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not rule out Wednesday that Biden could consider Harris’ candidacy for the vacant Supreme Court position. However, she clarified that Biden intends to run for re-election in 2024 with Harris number 2 on the list of candidates.
Harris was San Francisco’s District Attorney from 2004 to 2011 and Attorney General of California from 2011 to 2017. From there, she became a senator from the Golden State, but did not complete her first term before being inducted as the first female and black vice president in January 2021.