The names to be known as Biden are considering Breyer’s successor

(The Hill) – President Biden is set to have his first opportunity to appoint a judge to the Supreme Court, following the news that Judge Stephen Breyer is expected to announce his retirement in the coming days.

Biden promised several times during the 2020 campaign to nominate the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and a number of Democrats quickly began to put pressure on the president to follow through on that promise.

Breyer’s retirement, which had been the subject of speculation among Democrats, gives Biden and his party a chance to replace the 83-year-old lawyer with a younger liberal justice and potentially diversify the bench.

The possibility of appointing a Supreme Court judge is rare for presidents and can be a hereditary decision. Here’s a look at some of the names Biden is likely to consider nominating as Breyer’s successor.

Ketanji Brown Jackson

Jackson is widely seen as the frontrunner to be nominated as Breyer’s replacement.

The Senate confirmed the 51-year-old with a vote of 53-44 in June last year to serve in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, which is widely considered the second most powerful court in the country. She received support from all 50 Democrats, plus GOP support from Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lindsey Graham (SC).

In a narrowly divided Senate where Democrats can not afford any defector without Republican support, Jackson offers a potential candidate who has already been confirmed by moderates as late. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

Jackson filled the vacancy on the DC Court that was created when Biden elected Merrick Garland to serve as Attorney General.

She previously served as a federal district court judge in DC and was considered for the Supreme Court in 2016 when former President Obama was searching for a candidate after Judge Antonin Scalia’s death.

Leondra Kruger

Kruger serves on the California Supreme Court, to which she was appointed by the then government. Jerry Brown (D) in 2014.

She worked as an attorney for the late Justice John Paul Stevens and later served in the Obama administration as an assistant to solicitor general and acting deputy attorney general. In these roles, she argued for a dozen cases before the Supreme Court.

Her name was among those circulated by progressive groups in December 2020, when they urged Biden to appoint a black woman attorney general, a position for which he ultimately elected Elizabeth Prelogar.

Kruger, 45, would be the youngest judge on the bench if nominated and confirmed.

J. Michelle Childs

Biden nominated Childs, 55, a federal district court judge in South Carolina, to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals just a month ago. Although her confirmation is still awaiting, her name circulates among the top candidates for Breyer’s seat.

Her odds have been raised, largely thanks to a powerful ally in democratic leadership: Rep. James Clyburn (DS.C.), House Democrat No. 3.

Clyburn had already pressured Childs to be a potential candidate for the Supreme Court, 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 the University of South Carolina’s law school, which Clyburn highlighted as an additional point of diversity to separate her from the Ivy League-dominated legal elite.

“She’s the kind of person who has the kind of experiences that would make her a great 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 court nominees with backgrounds as public defenders and civil rights advocates. Her early record as a salaried lawyer specializing in defending employers in workplace cases may provoke an outcry from progressives who have so far applauded Biden’s judicial confirmation.

Sherrilyn Ifill

Ifill is a prominent civil rights lawyer who has served as president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund for nearly a decade.

Ifill, 59, announced in November that she would retire from her role in the spring of 2022. She was included on Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people last year.

Through its work with the NAACP, Ifill has been a prominent voice in a number of issues that are important to Democrats, including voting rights, diversity training, and other civil rights issues.

Some advocates have pressured Biden to consider professional diversity when considering his choice of court, and Ifill’s history as a civil rights lawyer would fit the bill. But a potential hurdle for Ifill is that she has not been through a confirmation hearing in the Senate, and the White House may not want to risk it in such a narrowly divided Senate.

Other names to see:

District Judge Eunice Lee and District Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi have both been nominated as potential candidates.

Both were former public defenders nominated by Biden to serve on the federal bench and were confirmed last year. Both are colored women, and their previous experience would bring professional diversity to the Supreme Court.

Several journalists on Wednesday asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the potential of nominating Vice President Harris, a former California state attorney general. Biden has said he intends to run alongside Harris in 2024 – and she said she is not interested in the job.

Some advocacy groups have urged Biden to consider nominating a Latino judge to the tribune, though it would likely create tensions with some of the black voters who drove Biden to the Democratic nomination and ultimately the White House.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) on Wednesday proposed Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Who is up for re-election this year, and Health and Human Services Secretary and former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as potential nominees.

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