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A Historic Selection

(Justice Breyer officially announcing his decision to step down with President Biden present) Image Credit: In late January, Justice Stephen Breyer announced that he would be retiring from the Supreme Court at the end of the term after over 27 years of service. Justice Breyer's retirement comes at a time when Democrats are looking to appoint a nominee of their choice, after President Trump chose the last three nominees on the Supreme Court. The current Supreme Court is considered to have six conservatives and three liberals, one of which is Justice Breyer. With justice Breyer's retirement, the Democrats will appoint another liberal to replace him, securing that seat for the future. The current balance of the Supreme Court has caused unease to Democrats. The loss of Justice Ginsburg was particularly painful since she had ignored the outcries to retire during the Obama presidency, and Democrats later paid the price. Democrats and liberal activists used every method imaginable to persuade Justice Breyer to retire, an effort that was ultimately successful. Now, Democrats are carefully examining many possible contenders. President Joe Biden stated repeatedly during his campaign that he would appoint the first ever African American women to the Supreme Court. Now, he looks to deliver on that promise, as he is considering nominees. There are three leading contenders to win the nomination: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, and Judge Michelle Childs. Jackson is widely regarded as the leading contender for the seat. She is a member on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: the second highest court in the country that is a well-established pathway to the Supreme Court. She commands a measure of bipartisan support, receiving 3 votes from Republicans on her confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court. Ironically, Judge Jackson was a former clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer. Judge Childs is also a strong contender. She has received support from House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Senator Lindsey Graham(R-SC). Representative Clyburn is an important figure in the Democratic Party and his endorsement of President Biden was crucial to him winning the primaries and the election. The endorsement of Lindsey Graham also demonstrates that Judge Childs can win bipartisan support, a stated goal of President Biden. Judge Kruger commands respect for her record as an advocate for the government, arguing 12 cases for the U.S. solicitor general's office. She also has judicial experience, serving as a justice on the California Supreme Court for seven years. Given Democratic control of the Senate and the Presidency, any of the nominees above could be confirmed. There is no burden to attract Republican votes, although it would be a nice bonus that helps the President's message of unity. The President runs a thorough inspection of the nominee's past record, including stated positions on policy issues and prior judicial opinions. This is to ensure that the nominee will produce results that align with the values of the President and the party. This also serves as a pre-screening to make sure that nothing in the record would derail the nominee's chances of Senate confirmation. This pre-clearance process ensures that if anything problematic in the record comes up, the President and his team see it first and determine how to navigate the complications it causes and decide of they should pursue the nomination in light of that problem. For now, the country lies in wait to see what nominee the President will nominate. Sources:


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