Replacing Justice Breyer
Federal appellate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger are widely considered the early frontrunners to succeed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. But the third name on most short lists, U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs, 55, got a bipartisan boost Sunday.
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) has been urging President Biden to elevate Childs for more than two years, since he convinced Biden to pledge to pick a Black woman for the highest court right before the South Carolina primary, The Associated Press reports. Clyburn credits Biden heeding that advice for his resounding win in South Carolina, the primary that turned around Biden's struggling bid for the White House.
Clyburn said Sunday he believes both of South Carolina's Republican senators would vote to confirm Childs.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) did not commit to voting for Childs, but he was effusive in his praise. "I can't think of a better person for President Biden to consider for the Supreme Court then Michelle Childs," he said on CBS's Face the Nation. "She has wide support in our state. She's considered to be a fair-minded, highly gifted jurist. She's one of the most decent people I've ever met."
Graham also rejected a claim by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) that Black female nominees would be "affirmative action" beneficiaries. "Affirmative action is picking somebody not as well qualified for past wrongs," he said. "Michelle Childs is incredibly qualified. There's no affirmative action component."
Biden has looked for diversity of experience in filling federal judicial seats — Jackson, for example, was a public defender. And unlike the other two reputed frontrunners, Childs did not graduate from an Ivy League school or clerk for a Supreme Court justice. She graduated from University of South Carolina School of Law and also has a business degree from the school plus a legal master's from Duke. Before her appointment to the federal bench in 2010, she was in private practice.
Graham said he appreciated that Childs is "not Harvard or Yale." He also noted "we've only had five women serve and two African American men" on the Supreme Court, "so let's make the court more like America." A spokeswoman for South Carolina's other senator, Tim Scott (R), said Childs has a "respected reputation as a judge in South Carolina" and Scott "looks forward to engaging with her if she is the nominee."