President Joe Biden focused on a pair of finalists for his first choice on the Supreme Court when rumors swirled last year that Justice Steven Breuer would step down with a promise to replace him with a black woman.
But since the impending resignation was announced late last month, a third potential candidate has emerged. And J. Michelle Childs, 55, has bipartisan support ready, which has complicated Biden’s upcoming decision. She is a federal judge in South Carolina and enjoys the support of prominent local legislators, including state senator Lindsey Graham.
For Biden, this is a tempting prospect. The President believes he was elected to try to unite the country after gaping and vicious political divisions that have intensified during the Trump administration and especially since the January 2021 Capitol riots.
And a multi-qualified Supreme Court nominee who has the vocal support of even one or two Republican senators may well attract the support of other Republicans. This, in turn, could make the nomination process smoother after some painfully partisan ones in recent years.
J. Michelle Childs, 55, Judge of the U.S. District Court for South Carolina, has been confirmed as a candidate to replace Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
The South Carolina judge has a key ally in Rep. James Clyburn (center), a longtime friend of Biden, who offered his 2020 support to the then presidential candidate in exchange for Biden publicly promising to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. if given chance
Two of the three judges now on Biden’s shortlist were assessed by White House aides last year, though that pre-screening did not include deep scrutiny of their opinions or background, official interviews, or FBI background checks.
They are Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, recently appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where she has served since June 2021, and Leondra Kruger, 45, a California Supreme Court Justice since 2015, who will be the first. people over the age of 40 move from the State Court to the Supreme Court if it is approved.
President Biden promised to choose a black woman to replace Judge Stephen Breuer, but he also sought to bridge the partisan split in Congress, which made Childs the best candidate for the judge.
Jackson is considered the best candidate. And she, too, has a proven track record of bipartisan support: she was confirmed in an appeals court by a vote of 53 to 44. She was voted by Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Biden said he would name his candidacy for the Supreme Court in February.
But J. Michelle Childs quickly emerged as a strong third nominee after House Majority Jim Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, publicly announced his support for her, as did State Senators Graham and Tim Scott. Graham has made it clear that Childs is his preferred choice.
A 55-year-old federal judge in South Carolina has been appointed to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. This appointment is on hold while she is pending in the High Court.
Childs doesn’t have an elite law school degree like many current Supreme Court justices do—she went to law school at the University of South Carolina. But it’s part of her message to Clyburn and others who are wondering what Ivy League powers are for. Eight of the nine current members of the court attended law schools at Harvard or Yale. Childs also holds a master’s degree from the school, as well as Duke’s other law degree.
Of the three judges on Biden’s shortlist, Childs is considered the most moderate, and she’s been criticized by progressives and labor unions who say her record doesn’t support workers’ rights enough. She was formerly a state court judge and has served as a trial federal court judge since 2010.
Jackson did go to Harvard Law School and has experience that will bring considerable professional diversity to the high court. She worked as a public defender and served on the US Sentencing Commission before she was appointed to the federal board by former President Barack Obama. She is the darling of the progressives.
Kruger, 45, has served on the California Supreme Court since 2015. She was only 38 years old when the then governor selected her for the position. Jerry Brown. She is considered moderate in a court of seven. She used to work for the Department of Justice.
President Joe Biden has vowed to replace liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer with a black woman.
Replacing Breuer will not change the ideological makeup of the court. So in a way, it makes it easier for Republicans to support Biden’s nominee. But Biden also said that bipartisan support is not necessary; a slim majority in the US Senate means he doesn’t need it.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and confirmed that he would choose a black woman to replace Breyer.
Earlier this week, Biden said he was looking closely at “about four” candidates and was interested in picking a nominee modeled on Breuer who could be a “persuasive” force among fellow judges. Although his votes tended to place him left of center in an increasingly conservative court, Breuer often saw gray in situations that colleagues to his right and left were more likely to find black or white.
Biden, who spends the weekend at Camp David, is looking into a number of cases and other materials about the candidates, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
His team, led by former Democratic Senator Doug Jones, compiled the candidates’ past writings, public appearances and decisions, and studied their life histories.
Psaki said Biden could begin meetings with top contenders as early as next week, noting that such interviews usually take place at the end of the screening process. She said the President is ready to announce it by the end of the month.
Returning to his campaign, Biden promised to nominate a black woman for the seat. The Supreme Court for almost two centuries consisted entirely of white men. Judge Clarence Thomas and the late Thurgood Marshall are the only two black men to have served on the court. There never was a black woman.
Other possible candidates included US District Court Judge Wilhelmina Wright of Minnesota; Melissa Murray, Professor of Law at New York University, an expert in family law and reproductive rights justice; and Leslie Abrams Gardner, U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia and sister of Stacey Abrams, an influential voting rights activist and candidate for governor of Georgia.