What to Know About Biden’s Top 3 Supreme Court Contenders
Joe Biden has only five days to honor his pledge that he would nominate the first Black woman before February ends to be the U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
The Wall Street reports that President Joe Biden has interviewed three potential candidates for his Supreme Court post. JournalThe New Yorker TimesD.C. Circuit Court Judge Ketanji Jackson Brown Jackson, California Supreme Court justice Leondra Kruger and South Carolina District Court judge J. Michelle Childs. All three women are on the President’s shortlist, a source familiar with the White House vetting processes confirmed to TIME earlier in February.
Biden’s nominee won’t swing the ideological makeup of the court, which has six conservative Justices and three liberal Justices. But she will be the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court in the nation’s history, and at her age—each of these women is below age 56—she’ll likely remain one of the most powerful people in the country for many years to come.
These are President Biden’s top three Supreme Court contenders.
Ketanji Brown Jackson
The 51-year-old judge has been rumored to be the President’s top choice since she was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year.
Jackson has served D.C. as a district judge since 2013. In June 2021, Jackson was confirmed by U.S. Senate to Circuit Court by a vote 53-44 with Republican senators. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) voted in favor of Jackson. According to Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee staff, confirmation hearings for her would be quick since she was just brought before them last year.
Jackson was born in Miami to two teachers. Her friends claim that her parents taught her an appreciation of education from an early age. After being a debate star in high school and an orator national champion, Jackson went to Harvard University where she studied law and undergraduate. Jackson was a clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer (the man she would succeed). Friends and former colleagues describe Jackson as meticulous, well-informed and cooperative. Richard Schragger, her former Harvard Law classmate and colleague at the law firm Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin says, “I’ve never seen her lose her cool.”
Jackson will bring with her a range of experiences to the court, which is lacking in some areas. She has not been a corporate or prosecutor lawyer, but she could be confirmed. From 2005 to 2007, she was a federal public defense attorney. She would become the first Justice since Thurgood Marshal who represents indigent criminal defendants. Jackson was vice-chair of the U.S. bipartisan U.S. Senate Committee from 2010 to 2014. From 2010 to 2014, Jackson was vice chair of the bipartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission. This period saw the commission revise the 100-to-1 crack/powder cocaine sentencing gap. Many of the commission’s decisions were unanimous during her tenure, and she built a reputation as a unifier.
In 2012 President Barack Obama nominated Jackson to the D.C. District Court, where she later received attention for several of her decisions against the Trump Administration. If she were to be elected to the Supreme Court, her 2019 ruling that Donald McGahn, former Trump White House Counsel had to comply with a congressional subpoena will likely come under questioning from Republican Senators. “Presidents are not kings,” Jackson wrote in that 2019 decision. “They do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.”
Even though she is three times zones from home, Associate Justice Leondra Kruger of California Supreme Court has a strong reputation in Washington.
Justice, 45 years old, was born in South California. Her mother is immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica and her father’s parents came to the U.S. from Eastern Europe. Harvard University was her first choice for undergraduate education. Yale University is where she received her law degree. She also attended Yale University, where she became the Yale Law Journal’s first Black women editor-in chief. Then she went to Washington where she worked for D.C. She then headed to Washington, where she clerked for D.C. Circuit Court Judge David Tatel as well Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens before going into private practice and becoming an adjunct professor at University of Chicago Law School.
Kruger was an assistant to US solicitor general and acting principal deputy solicitor General. Kruger argued 12 cases before U.S. Supreme Court. One of these high-profile religious right cases saw the court rule against Obama Administration. Kruger then joined the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, where she helped strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned same-sex marriage, and uphold the Affordable Care Act.
In 2014, California Gov. When Kruger was 38 years of age, Jerry Brown appointed Kruger to California’s Supreme Court. Kruger’s reputation for attentive incrementalist has been built over seven years of service on the court. TellingThe Los Angeles Times in 2018 that she strives to perform her job in a way that “enhances the predictability and stability of the law and public confidence and trust in the work of the courts.”
Biden Administration reportedlyKruger was twice asked to be the solicitor general. Now, if she’s offered a Supreme Court nomination instead, she She would become the first Justice to be confirmed since David Souter, whose primary experience in judging came from a state Supreme Court and not a federal one. Given that she hasn’t previously come before the Senate Judiciary Committee, her vetting and confirmation process would likely take longer than other candidates.
J. Michelle Childs
Judge J. Michelle Childs is a member of the U.S. District Court of the District of South Carolina. She has strong allies in the Beltway.
South Carolina Democrat Rep. Jim Clyburn has been openly campaigning for Childs’ nomination, telling Axios that he’s been advocating for Childs to the White House for the past six months—long before Breyer’s retirement was even announced. Childs, 55 years old, has received plaudits also from South Carolina Republican senator Graham, who serves on the Judiciary Committee. Graham told reporters on Feb. 2 that Childs is “somebody I could see myself supporting.” He warned that if Biden’s pick isn’t Childs, it could be “much more problematic.”
Childs was born in Detroit and moved to Columbia when she was mid-teens. She was raised by one mother. Childs attended University of South Florida to complete her undergraduate degree and University of South Carolina to finish law school. Childs, if confirmed, would replace Amy Coney Barrett as the Supreme Court Justice. She was not a Yale or Harvard Law School graduate. “I think a public university and a public law school gives you a different perspective,” says Bob Coble, the former Mayor of Columbia who worked with Childs at the law firm Nexsen Pruet, where Childs launched her legal career. “I think that’s a perspective that most of us have that would be a good addition to the court.”
Childs made partner at Nexsen Pruet in 2000, Being the first Black woman to become a partner in a South Carolina law firm. Some progressive groups have argued that some of Childs’ cases at Nexsen Pruet defending employers accused of race and gender discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace would go against Biden’s pledge to be the most “pro-union president” in history. Joseph Geevarghese was the executive director at progressive political group. Our Revolution, which supports Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, said in a statement that workers “do not need another anti-labor Justice actively opposing the very labor protections this Administration is working to uphold and expand.”
Obama appointed Childs in 2009 to the South Carolina District Court. She was then quickly confirmed by Senate voice vote. Childs earned a reputation for fairness, being even-headed and quick while on the court. Her most notable decision was in 2014. She ruled that South Carolina had violated the Constitution when it refused to recognize outside-of-state marriages between same-sex couples.