President Biden Joe Biden Top Hispanic lawmaker urges Biden to expedite reunification of Ukrainians in US Democrats plot strategy to defy expectations, limit midterm losses On The Money — US suspending normal trade with Russia MORE is set to have his first opportunity to appoint a judge to the Supreme Court after news broke that Justice Stephen Breyer Stephen Breyer Ketanji Brown Jackson’s judicial superpower: An appreciation of the human consequences of court rulings Susan Collins praises Biden’s Supreme Court pick after meeting Reinstatement of marathon bomber’s death sentence exposes Democrats’ need to hide radicalism MORE is expected to announce his retirement in the coming days.
Biden vowed multiple times during the 2020 campaign to appoint the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and a number of Democrats quickly began applying pressure on the president to follow through on that pledge.
Breyer's retirement, which had been a subject of speculation among Democrats, gives Biden and his party a chance to replace the 83-year-old jurist with a younger liberal justice and potentially diversify the bench.
The opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice is rare for presidents and can be a legacy-defining decision. Here's a look at some of the names Biden is likely to consider nominating as Breyer's replacement.
Ketanji Brown Jackson
Jackson is widely seen as the front-runner to be nominated as Breyer's replacement.
The Senate confirmed the 51-year-old on a 53-44 vote last June vote to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, widely viewed as the second-most powerful court in the country. She received support from all 50 Democrats, plus GOP support from Sens. Susan Collins Susan Margaret Collins Manchin has ‘positive’ meeting with Biden’s Supreme Court nominee The unratified undead: Democrats move to declare the ERA the 28th Amendment Lawmakers reach .5T deal on government funding package MORE (Maine), Lisa Murkowski Lisa Ann Murkowski Senate averts shutdown, passes .6B in Ukraine aid Senate gets deal for quick vote on funding, Ukraine aid Overnight Energy & Environment — House agrees to ban Russian oil MORE (Alaska) and Lindsey Graham Lindsey Olin Graham Manchin has ‘positive’ meeting with Biden’s Supreme Court nominee The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Emergent – Biden, Congress take aim at Russian oil Graham signals he’s a likely ‘no’ on Biden SCOTUS pick MORE (S.C.).
In a narrowly divided Senate where Democrats can afford no defections without Republican support, Jackson offers a potential nominee who has already been confirmed by moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin Joe Manchin Democrats plot strategy to defy expectations, limit midterm losses Biden marks anniversary of American Rescue Plan with visit to elementary school Manchin’s energy and deficit-reduction bill can fight inflation — and Russia MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema Kyrsten Sinema Democrats plot strategy to defy expectations, limit midterm losses More Americans cite equality concerns, but most back voting laws: poll Harris in Selma: ‘We will not let setbacks stop us’ MORE (D-Ariz.).
Jackson filled the vacancy on the D.C. court created when Biden chose Merrick Garland Merrick Garland DOJ task force says it will target those who aid Russian oligarchs in evading sanctions Overnight Defense & National Security — Senators grill Biden officials on Ukraine DOJ finds more than billion in COVID aid fraud MORE to serve as attorney general.
She previously served as a federal district court judge in D.C., and was considered for the Supreme Court in 2016 when former President Obama Barack Hussein Obama Biden seeks to rally Democrats ahead of crucial midterms What will it take to end Russia’s war in Ukraine? Creative diplomacy The best possible US endgame in Ukraine is not what you may think MORE was searching for a nominee following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Kruger serves on the California Supreme Court, to which she was appointed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in 2014.
She worked as a clerk for the late Justice John Paul Stevens and later served in the Obama administration as an assistant to the solicitor general and acting principal deputy solicitor general. In those roles, she argued a dozen cases in front of the Supreme Court.
Her name was among those circulated by progressive groups in December 2020 when they urged Biden to name a Black woman as solicitor general, a position for which he ultimately chose Elizabeth Prelogar.
Kruger, who is 45, would be the youngest justice on the bench if nominated and confirmed.
J. Michelle Childs
Biden nominated Childs, 55, a federal district court judge in South Carolina, to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals just one month ago. Though her confirmation is still pending, her name is circulating among the top contenders for Breyer’s seat.
Her odds have been boosted, largely thanks to a powerful ally in Democratic leadership: Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the No. 3 House Democrat.
Clyburn had already been pushing Childs as a potential high court nominee, The New York Times reported last year, touting her blue-collar roots in a state that was key to Biden’s victory. Childs graduated from University of South Carolina’s law school, which Clyburn emphasized as an additional point of diversity to set her apart from the Ivy League-dominated legal elite.
"She is the kind of person who has the sort of experiences that would make her a good addition to the Supreme Court," Clyburn told the Times.
But a Childs nomination would be a departure from Biden’s first-year records of elevating judicial nominees with backgrounds as public defenders and civil rights attorneys. Her early record as a white collar lawyer specializing in defending employers in workplace suits may provoke an outcry from progressives who have thus far applauded Biden’s judicial confirmation record.
Ifill is a prominent civil rights lawyer who has served as the president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund for nearly a decade.
Ifill, 59, announced in November she would step down from her role in the spring of 2022. She was included on Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list last year.
Through her work with the NAACP, Ifill has been a prominent voice on a number of issues important to Democrats, including voting rights, diversity training and other civil rights issues.
Some advocates have pushed Biden to consider professional diversity when considering his court picks, and Ifill's history as a civil rights lawyer would fit the bill. But one potential obstacle facing Ifill is that she has not been through a Senate confirmation hearing, and the White House may not want to risk it in such a narrowly divided Senate.
Other names to watch:
Circuit Judge Eunice Lee and Circuit Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi have both been floated as potential candidates.
Both were former public defenders nominated by Biden to serve on the federal bench and were confirmed last year. Both are women of color, and their past experience would bring professional diversity to the Supreme Court.
Multiple reporters asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki Jen Psaki Officer who fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant cleared of wrongdoing Overnight Defense & National Security — Biden gives warning on chemical weapons White House briefs TikTok creators on Ukraine MORE on Wednesday about the potential of nominating Vice President Harris, a former California attorney general. Biden has said he intends to run alongside Harris in 2024 — and she said she's not interested in the job.
Some advocacy groups have urged Biden to consider nominating a Latino judge to the bench, though doing so would likely inflame tensions with some of the Black voters who propelled Biden to the Democratic nomination and ultimately the White House.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) on Wednesday suggested Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto Catherine Marie Cortez Masto Lawmakers feast on pork in omnibus Democrats look for offramp from masking in public Democrats try to regroup heading into rough November MORE (D-Nev.), who is up for reelection this year, and Health and Human Services Secretary and former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Xavier Becerra The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Emergent – US weighs Russia oil ban. Will Europe follow? Overnight Health Care — Presented by Alexion — Battle lines drawn over COVID-19 funding US plans to share coronavirus technology with WHO MORE as potential nominees.
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