Joe Biden mulling three candidates for impending vacancy at US Supreme Court

27 January 2022, 07:24

The US Supreme Court (Evan Vucci/AP)
Abortion Bill West Virginia. Picture: PA

The US president has indicated he will choose a black woman to replace Stephen Breyer who is set to announce his retirement.

President Joe Biden is eyeing at least three judges for an expected vacancy on the US 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.

Mr Biden and Justice Stephen Breyer are expected to hold an event at the White House on Thursday to formally announce Mr Breyer’s plans to retire, according to a person briefed on the planning who was not authorised to publicly discuss it in advance.

Early discussions about a successor are focusing on US Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, US 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.

Ms Jackson and Ms Kruger have long been seen as possible nominees.

Judge J. Michelle Childs (Charles Dharapak/AP)
Judge J. Michelle Childs (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Since Mr 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, Mr 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.

Judge Leondra Kruger (S Todd Rogers/AP)
Judge Leondra Kruger (S Todd Rogers/AP)

By the end of his first year, Mr Biden had won confirmation of 40 judges, the most since President Ronald Reagan.

Of those, 80% are women and 53% are people of colour, according to the White House.

Ms Jackson, 51, was nominated by President Barack Obama to be a district court judge.

Mr Biden elevated her to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Early in her career, she was also a law clerk for Mr Breyer.

Ketanji Brown Jackson (Tom Williams/AP)
Ketanji Brown Jackson (Tom Williams/AP)

Ms 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 she is a favorite among some high-profile politicians, including Representative James Clyburn, a Democrat.

Ms 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.

Mr Breyer, 83, will retire at the end of the summer, according to two sources.

By Press Association

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