President Joe Biden has reportedly made his choice for Supreme Court, and, according to a CNN source, will announce it Friday. While the Russian invasion of Ukraine is dominating the news and Biden’s time, a Friday announcement would have some symbolic value: The day marks two years since Biden first pledged to nominate a Black woman to the court.
Biden has interviewed three candidates, according to reports: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; Judge Michelle Childs of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina; and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger. When Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement, Jackson was seen as an immediate frontrunner, with Kruger another likely member of the short list. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, along with South Carolina Republicans, propelled Childs onto the short list through intense lobbying.
Friday morning, CNN reported that Jackson would indeed be Biden’s nominee, but that report is unconfirmed.
CNN’s report does match a possible sign that Biden’s choice would be Jackson noted by legal observers on Thursday, when the D.C. Circuit released a 2-1 opinion by Jackson in a deviation from the court’s usual Tuesday-Friday opinion release schedule. Similarly, the appeals court released a 2-1 opinion from Brett Kavanaugh on a Monday immediately before Donald Trump nominated him to the Supreme Court.
Jackson has drawn support from liberal groups, with MoveOn, Indivisible, Justice Democrats, and Democrats joining a letter calling on Biden to nominate her, pointing out that of Biden’s reported short list, only Jackson meets his pledge to diversify the professional backgrounds of top judges by nominating public defenders and civil rights lawyers. Jackson was an assistant federal public defender early in her career. She was nominated to the federal district court by President Barack Obama and confirmed in 2013. When she was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit last summer, three Republicans—Sens. Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski—joined Democrats in voting for her. That very recent confirmation vote is seen as a strength.
Childs, by contrast, has not served on a federal appeals court, but her supporters have hailed the educational diversity she would bring to the court: She did not attend an Ivy League school. Before becoming a state judge in South Carolina, Childs worked for an employer-side labor law firm, igniting serious concerns from worker advocates about her presence on the Supreme Court. She has served as a federal district judge since 2010, and Biden has nominated her to the D.C. Circuit, a nomination that is on hold while she’s considered for the Supreme Court.
Kruger would be the youngest Supreme Court nominee since Clarence Thomas. In addition to her seven years on the California Supreme Court, she spent six years in the federal solicitor general’s office, arguing 12 cases at the Supreme Court.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson remains the most likely—and reported—choice, which would be very good news.