At least 3 judges eyed as Biden mulls Supreme Court pick

President Joe Biden is eyeing at least three judges for an expected vacancy on the Supreme Court as he prepares to quickly deliver on his campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the nations highest court, according to aides and allies.With Justice Stephen Breyer planning to retire, early discussions about a successor are focusing on U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. District Judge J.


PTI | Washington DC | Updated: 27-01-2022 09:07 IST | Created: 27-01-2022 09:07 IST
At least 3 judges eyed as Biden mulls Supreme Court pick
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President Joe Biden is eyeing at least three judges for an expected vacancy on the Supreme Court as he prepares to quickly deliver on his campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the nation's highest court, according to aides and allies.

With Justice Stephen Breyer planning to retire, early discussions about a successor are focusing on U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, according to four people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss White House deliberations. Jackson and Kruger have long been seen as possible nominees.

Since Biden took office in January 2021, he has focused on nominating a diverse group of judges to the federal bench, installing five Black women on federal appeals courts, with three more nominations pending before the Senate. Other possible candidates for the high court could come from among that group, Biden aides and allies said, especially since almost all of the recent Supreme Court nominees have been federal appeals judges.

“He has a strong pool to select a candidate from, in addition to other sources. This is an historic opportunity to appoint someone with a strong record on civil and human rights,” said Derrick Johnson, the NAACP's president. By the end of his first year, Biden had won confirmation of 40 judges, the most since President Ronald Reagan. Of those, 80% are women and 53% are people of color, according to the White House.

Jackson, 51, was nominated by President Barack Obama to be a district court judge. Biden elevated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Early in her career, she was also a law clerk for Breyer. Childs, a federal judge in South Carolina, has been nominated but not yet confirmed to serve on the same circuit court. Her name has surfaced partly because is a favorite among some high-profile lawmakers, including Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.

Kruger, a graduate of Harvard and Yale's law school, was previously a Supreme Court clerk and has argued a dozen cases before the justices as a lawyer for the federal government. Breyer, 83, will retire at the end of the summer, according to two sources who confirmed the news to The Associated Press on Wednesday. They spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to preempt Breyer's formal announcement. But the Senate can confirm a successor before there is a formal vacancy, so the White House was getting to work and it was expected to take at least a few weeks before a nomination was formalized.

Biden said Wednesday he wasn't going to get ahead of Breyer's announcement. “Every justice should have an opportunity to decide what he or she is going to do and announce it on their own,'' Biden said. ''Let him make whatever statement he's going to make and I'll be happy to talk about it later.” When Biden was running for the White House, he said that if he had the chance to nominate someone to the court, he would make history by choosing a Black woman. And he's reiterated that pledge since. “As president, I'd be honored, honored to appoint the first African American woman. Because it should look like the country. It's long past time,” Biden said in February 2020 shortly before South Carolina's presidential primary. Adding a Black woman to the court would mean a series of firsts — four female justices and two Black justices serving at the same time on the nine-member court. Justice Clarence Thomas is the court's only Black justice and just the second ever, after Thurgood Marshall. And Biden would have the chance to show Black voters increasingly frustrated with a president they helped to elect that he is serious about their concerns, particularly after he has been unable to push through voting rights legislation.

At the same time, Breyer's replacement by another liberal justice would not change the ideological makeup of the court. Conservatives outnumber liberals by 6-3, and Donald Trump's three nominees made an already conservative court even more conservative.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Biden's nominee “will receive a prompt hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be considered and confirmed by the full United States Senate with all deliberate speed.”

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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