The White House has acknowledged that South Carolina federal Judge J. Michelle Childs is under consideration to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer after Democratic House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn signaled at least two Republican senators see her as President Joe Biden's best bet.
"Judge Childs is among multiple individuals under consideration for the Supreme Court, and we are not going to move her nomination on the Court of Appeals while the President is considering her for this vacancy," White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement, marking the first person publicly named as a contender for the court.
Clyburn, who endorsed Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination in February 2020 after he pledged to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court, told Axios that the White House has been aware of his support of Childs for months. He added that both South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott expressed their support for Childs as a contender.
"I can't think of a better person for President Biden to consider for the Supreme Court then Michelle Childs," @LindseyGrahamSC tells @margbrennan. pic.twitter.com/I90qMetX2d— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 30, 2022
"I can't think of a better person for President Biden to consider to the Supreme Court than Michelle Childs," Graham, former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CBS's Face the Nation. "She has wide support in our state. She's considered to be a fair-minded, highly gifted jurist. She is one of the most decent people I've ever met."
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A spokesperson for Scott told the Washington Examiner that he is aware of Childs's "respected reputation as a judge in South Carolina, which has earned her universal acclaim, and he looks forward to engaging with her if she is the nominee."
Childs, 55, was slated to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week for a hearing on her nomination to the federal District of Columbia Court of Appeals, but the hearing was postponed due to her consideration to the Supreme Court. Since 2010, she has served on the bench for the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina and made a historic ruling in 2014 that helped pave the way for legal same-sex marriage in South Carolina.
“It’s time for President Biden to live up to his campaign promise and appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court,” said David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, who told the Washington Examiner that Childs would be "an excellent pick."
While Biden's officials have not named any other contenders, outlets have floated the possibility of U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, who was on former President Barack Obama's short list in 2016. California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, 45, has also been touted by legal experts as a possible selection.
Biden has vowed to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court before the end of February, and part of his selection process will likely take into account the narrow Democratic majority in the 50-50 Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tiebreaking vote. This would increase the appeal of contenders who can gain bipartisan support. The White House has also pushed back on news reports "indicating that the President is only seriously considering three potential nominees is incorrect," according to Bates.
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The White House did not respond to Washington Examiner's request for comment by publication.