Biden Set to Make Historic Nomination to Supreme Court


Photo Credit // Kjetil Ree

Gael Willems Cleetus

Update: President Biden has nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, for more information, check here:

On January 27, 2022, Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer announced his retirement from the highest court in the country after serving more than 27 years on the bench. He is the oldest Justice on the court, and many progressives have been calling for him to resign so that President Biden could nominate a younger candidate that could perhaps bring some diversity to the Supreme Court. Breyer leaves behind him an impressive legal career that includes numerous teaching positions at various universities, as well as a 14 year tenure on the First Circuit Court of Appeals that eventually took him to the Supreme Court. 


As previous presidents have done when a seat has been vacated on the Supreme Court, President Biden is taking his time reviewing possible nominees. Press Secretary Jen Psaki has described it as “a rigorous process” and an announcement on his nominee is expected to come around late February. Biden has promised to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, something that has been reiterated by him and Psaki. 


This would bring what many consider to be much needed diversity to the bench. As of February 2022, there have been 115 Justices to sit on the Supreme Court. Two have been Black, only one of Hispanic or Latino heritage, five female Justices, and no Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander Justices ever nominated to the Supreme Court. According to, the Black female population of the U.S. is about 21.7 million, or approximately 6.5% of the population. Those Black women, and millions before them, have not been represented by a single Black female Supreme Court Justice before, which many feel has been an injustice that has carried on far too long.


There is a list of three potential nominees that seem most probable to be on the President’s shortlist. One of them is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. Circuit of Appeals judge of the District of Columbia Circuit. Jackson was nominated to the Circuit Court in spring of 2021, and prior to that had served eight years on a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. During her confirmation hearing to the D.C. Circuit before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jackson remarked, “The beauty and the majesty of this country, that someone who comes from a background like mine could find herself in this position.” She has clerked for three federal judges, Judge Bruce Selya of the U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit, Judge Patti Saris of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, and Justice Breyer himself. Judge Jackson has also graduated from Harvard Law School and Harvard-Radcliffe College. Overall, Ketanji Brown Jackson has an impressive judicial record and is a front runner in Biden’s potential nominees list.


Another potential Supreme Court nominee is California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger. Justice Kruger received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and attended Yale Law School, before clerking for Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice John Paul Stevens, a late Supreme Court Justice. Recounting her experience with Justice Stevens in a symposium on Supreme Court clerkships, Kruger said, “One thing that I really learned from working with Justice Stevens…is the importance of not only competence, in a law clerk, but also character…he was really interested in finding people who were not only very good at learning the law and doing the research, but were also nice people….people who were inclined to lend a helping hand.” From 2007 to 2013, she served in the Department of Justice, and during her tenure there, argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government. Justice Kruger is also seen as a top potential Supreme Court nominee, and will be closely watched by many who are tracking President Biden’s potential nominees.


The last possible nominee by Joe Biden is Judge J. Michelle Childs of the South Carolina Federal District Court. Judge Michelle Childs graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1992. After graduating, Childs went on to work at a law firm for eight years, becoming the first Black female partner in a major law firm (Nexsen Pruet) in South Carolina. In 2009, Childs was nominated to the South Carolina Federal District Court by the then president Barack Obama. She was confirmed, and took the position in 2010. One thing that sets Judge Childs apart from other potential candidates for the Supreme Court is the fact that she has the key backing of prominent House Democrat and Majority Whip James (Jim) Clyburn. Clyburn had endorsed Childs even before Justice Breyer retired as a potential successor, and is pushing for Biden, who earned his endorsement in the 2020 Democratic Primaries, to nominate her. Judge Childs also has some bipartisan support, a rarity these days, with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee) voicing his support for her and predicting that she could garner up to 10 Republican votes if she was nominated, according to CNBC. “Anyone else would be problematic,” stated Senator Graham in an interview with ABC news.


With so many controversial and truly historic cases being brought before the Supreme Court, on issues ranging from abortion, to environmental standards, to voting rights, the Supreme Court is a major focal point for many people. Its rulings affect how things are carried out not just on a district or state level, but nationwide, as the most powerful judicial entity in the U.S. All of these factors make President Biden’s decision on a Supreme Court nominee a choice that will affect the daily lives of generations to come.