In what will be one of the most monumental endeavors of Joe Biden’s presidency, the retirement of Stephen Breyer sets the stage for an immensely important decision by the President.
Breyer’s seat may be the only one that Biden fills on the Supreme Court, and it may not be one he fills at all — if Republicans retake the Senate before the President’s choice for a replacement is confirmed.
On the campaign trail, Biden vowed to put a Black woman on the high court, which would be an historic first. A short list of potential nominees had been circulating Washington well before Breyer’s retirement plans became public, and officials in the White House Counsel’s office built files on various candidates in anticipation of a potential vacancy. Now, those efforts will ramp up significantly and the President will likely hold one on one meetings before announcing his pick.
The White House is stacked with officials deeply familiar with the confirmation process, starting with Biden himself — who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee — as well as White House chief of staff Ron Klain, who has experience both at the White House counsel’s office and working for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Continue Reading
Here are details about 3 of the shortlisted candidates:
DC Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson received her commission as a United States Circuit Judge in June of 2021. From 2013 until 2021, she served as a United State District Judge, and until December of 2014, she also served as a Vice Chair and Commissioner on the United States Sentencing Commission.
Prior to her four years of service on the Sentencing Commission, Judge Jackson worked for three years as Of Counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP, with a practice that focused on criminal and civil appellate litigation in both state and federal courts, as well as cases in the Supreme Court of the United States. Before joining Morrison & Foerster LLP, Judge Jackson served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the appeals division of the Office of the Federal Public Defender in the District of Columbia. Before that appointment, Judge Jackson worked as an Assistant Special Counsel at the Sentencing Commission and as an associate with two law firms (one specializing in white-collar criminal defense, and the other focusing on the negotiated settlement of mass-tort claims). Judge Jackson also served as a law clerk to three federal judges: Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States, Judge Bruce M. Selya of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and Judge Patti B. Saris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Judge Jackson is currently a member of the Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Services, as well as the Board of Overseers of Harvard University and the Council of the American Law Institute. She also currently serves on the board of Georgetown Day School and the United States Supreme Court Fellows Commission.
Judge Jackson received a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1996, where she served as a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. She received an A.B., magna cum laude, in Government from Harvard-Radcliffe College in 1992. Source
California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger
Immediately before joining the court, Justice Kruger served in the United States Department of Justice as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel. From 2007 to 2013, she served in the Department as an Assistant to the Solicitor General and as Acting Deputy Solicitor General. During her tenure in the Office of the Solicitor General, she argued 12 cases in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government. In 2013 and in 2014, she received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the Department’s highest award for employee performance.
Justice Kruger had previously been in private practice, where she specialized in appellate and Supreme Court litigation, and taught as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School.
A native of the Los Angeles area, Justice Kruger attended high school in Pasadena. She received her bachelor’s degree with high honors from Harvard College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. Following graduation, she served as a law clerk to Judge David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and to Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court. Source
South Carolina US District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs
The Honorable J. Michelle Childs was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina in August 2010. She holds a B.S. in Management from the University of South Florida Honors College, a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law, a Masters in Personnel and Employment Relations from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, and a Masters of Judicial Studies from Duke University School of Law.
Prior to the federal court, she served as an At-Large Circuit Court Judge, including having responsibilities as the Chief Administrative Judge for General Sessions and Business Court for the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Richland and Kershaw Counties. Judge Childs also had the distinct honor of gubernatorial appointments as a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner (2002-06) and as the Deputy Director for the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Labor (2000-02), overseeing programs for Wages and Child Labor, OSHA, OSHA Voluntary Programs, Elevators and Amusement Rides, Migrant Labor, and Labor-Management Mediation. Judge Childs was formerly a partner with the law firm of Nexsen Pruet Jacobs & Pollard, LLP, in Columbia, South Carolina, where she practiced in the areas of employment and labor law and general litigation. Judge Childs is very active with various local, state and national bar organizations, as well as community organizations. She is a member of the American Law Institute and served as an Advisor to the Restatement (Third) of Employment Law, the Chair of the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division, and a member of the Council of the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, and the Secretary of the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section.
She has, as a practicing lawyer and as a judge, lectured and served frequently on panels for topics regarding litigation and trial techniques, courtroom practices and procedures, discovery, expert witnesses, evidence, and various topics for new lawyers. Source