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Government - Federal National News

Possible picks for the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer


Last week, President Joe Biden formally announced the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer and his plans to keep a 2020 campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Biden said he would name a successor by the end of February after a deliberate process, but he declined to answer questions about that process. 

In his remarks Thursday, Biden said he would look broadly for advice from outside legal experts, senators and others. He made a point of saying that he would look to Vice President Kamala Harris, whom he called an “exceptional lawyer.” She is a former attorney general of California who served on the Judiciary Committee when she was in the Senate. “I will listen carefully to all the advice I’m given,” he said.

Biden will have an array of accomplished Black women to choose from. Speculation has focused on several Black jurists as the most likely candidates. They include:

Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Leondra R. Kruger, 45, a justice on the California Supreme Court; 

Sherrilyn Ifil, 59, the head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in Washington, DC; 

Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, 43, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; 

J. Michelle Childs, 55, a U.S. District Court judge in South Carolina;

Holly Thomas, 43, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.

Biden has said repeatedly that he views efforts to promote diversity as a big part of his legacy. He has several months to find a successor for Breyer, but some say he will move quickly to fill the role which will make an historic and long-lasting imprint on what the court looks like into the future. 

Biden’s selection of a Black woman for a life appointment to the court will not affect the ideological balance on the court, where conservatives hold a 6-3 majority.


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