Who Will Replace Supreme Court Justice Breyer? Ketanji Brown Jackson Leads Most Lists
Longtime Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced today that he will step down after the current term is over, so the question now becomes, who will President Joe Biden nominate to take his seat?
During his 2020 campaign, Biden repeatedly said that he would nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court.
“(The President) has stated and reiterated his commitment to nominating a black woman to the Supreme Court and certainly stands by that,” confirmed White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a Wednesday news briefing, shortly after Breyer’s retirement was announced to the public.
Biden should announce his nominee soon as confirmation hearings can take months, although the Republicans rushed to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett in less than a month as then-President Donald Trump‘s administration was coming to a close. The Democrats are most likely to lose control of Congress after the midterm election later this year.
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Sources say Breyer told Biden of his intent to retire last week.
Some thought Vice President Kamala Harris might be a candidate to take Breyer’s spot, but Psaki restated that Biden plans on running for reelection with her. The names at the top of the list to replace Breyer on the highest court are DC Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, 45.
Last year, Biden nominated Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which was a position many Supreme Court justices held before they were nominated to the highest court. Since she was appointed to the second-most powerful court in the nation, she already went through a thorough vetting process. Jackson graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School. A Jackson nomination could also be a full-circle moment as she clerked for Breyer from 1999-2000.
Jackson’s path to the Supreme Court would not be traditional as she worked for a public defender. She then served as the Obama-appointed vice-chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which worked to shorten sentences of those serving time for drug-related crime.
Leondra Kruger has presided on the California Supreme Court since 2014, where she’s been seen as a swing vote, sometimes siding with the conservatives. She was 38 at the time of her nomination and was the youngest to be appointed to that position. She clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens from 2003-2004. Kruger argued 12 cases in front of the Supreme Court during her time as an assistant to the U.S. solicitor general.
South Carolina US District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs is another name that stands out, as Biden nominated her to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia just last month. civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls and United States District Judge for the District of Minnesota Wilhelmina Wright have also been seen as candidates for a nomination.
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