- Justice Stephen Bryer is reportedly stepping down from the Supreme Court.
- President Biden previously promised to make a Black woman his first selection to the court.
- Insider has a look at some of the names reportedly on Biden’s shortlist.
There may soon be an open seat on the Supreme Court as Justice Stephen Breyer is reportedly retiring from the court. President Joe Biden has previously promised that his first pick would be the first-ever Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
Here’s a brief look at some of the top names on a possible shortlist:
Ketanji Brown Jackson
Jackson replaced Attorney General Merrick Garland on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, often referred to as the nation’s second-highest court, in June 2021. The DC circuit has long been a stepping stone to the US Supreme Court. Jackson was already viewed as a potential future justice during her confirmation.
She received unanimous support from Senate Democrats and three Republican votes for her confirmation to the circuit court. Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Lindsey Graham all voted for Jackson’s confirmation. Jackson would not need a single Republican vote if all 50 Senate Democrats supported her again.
Jackson also once clerked for Justice Breyer. Historically speaking, Supreme Court justices often ask presidents to consider their former clerks when they retire. The most recent example of this is Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who replaced his one-time boss Justice Anthony Kennedy on the high court.
“She’s the odds-on favorite,” to be Biden’s first pick, Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University and a former clerk at the DC Circuit, told Insider in 2020.
Kruger currently serves on the California state Supreme Court. Insider previously reported that Kruger twice turned down the White House’s offer to name her as solicitor general, another job that has at times served as a stepping stone to the court. Justice Elena Kagan is the most recent person to have followed that path.
She served in the George W. Bush administration working in the Bush-era Justice Department. She rose to become Acting Deputy Solicitor General and argued 12 cases in front of the US Supreme Court.
“She’s a very good choice based on her performance as a state supreme court justice,” Frank Ravitch, a law professor at Michigan State University, told Insider in 2020.”She’s very methodical and she’s able to give really solid analysis of the legal issues she’s dealing with.
J. Michelle Childs
Childs currently serves as a federal court judge in South Carolina. President Barack Obama appointed her in 2010. President Biden recently nominated Childs for a seat on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, previously confirmed reporting that he told Biden’s staff and people around the president that Childs would be an ideal candidate for the court. Clyburn was instrumental in getting Biden to commit to naming a Black woman to the court and his endorsement of Biden before the South Carolina primary is widely regarded as the springboard that powered Biden to the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
“I’m afraid that some in our party are lapsing into this notion that can only result in an elitist court, so that’s a problem for me,” Clyburn told the Post and Courier, a local South Carolina newspaper, in December 2021. “Clarence Thomas is an Ivy League school graduate. Thurgood Marshall was an HBCU graduate. Which would you prefer?”
Childs, who is from Detroit, attended the University of South Carolina law school. As Clyburn pointed out, Supreme Court justices typically hail from Ivy League law schools.
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