Democratic Senators Support Biden in Quest for Supreme Court Nominee

February 11, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
<strong>Democratic Senators Support Biden in Quest for Supreme Court Nominee</strong>
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., center, speaks with reporters after he and Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee met with President Joe Biden to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, at the White House in Washington. Standing with Leahy are Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, from left, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is signaling he plans to push ahead with his nomination this month of the first Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court even as a survey released Friday shows most Americans do not share his priority.

A White House statement released after Biden met with Senate judiciary leaders Thursday showed he appeared to have support from Democrats. The Senate Judiciary Committee must confirm Biden’s Supreme Court nominee.

The statement said, “There are a wealth of extraordinarily qualified potential nominees under consideration who are dedicated to the Constitution and the rule of law, with top-rate legal intellects, and the strongest credentials, records and character any person could possess.”

All of the top candidates to replace retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer are Black women. They include Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the District of Columbia Circuit, U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs of South Carolina, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra R. Kruger.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a press briefing after meeting with Biden that the senators offered recommendations but that they trusted the president to make the right choice.

Biden is the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee while Vice President Kamala Harris was a member of it.

“I am confident that President Biden will soon nominate an exceptionally qualified Black woman who is fair and impartial,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, in a statement after the senators’ meeting with Biden. “I made clear to President Biden that we need a Supreme Court that actually reflects America, and appointing the first Black woman would help make that a reality.”

Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee have said they hope Biden chooses a nominee who can work productively on the Supreme Court, regardless of race.

The Republicans’ sentiments generally align with popular opinions in a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.

It showed that 55% of respondents believe nominating a Black woman is either “not very” or “not at all” important to them. Only 23% said it was “very important.”

Most Americans believe Biden should choose “the most qualified” judge rather than showing a preference for race, gender or politics, according to the 1,628 adult respondents. They said Biden was not abiding by that principle when he limited the candidates to Black women.

At the same time, a majority agreed all three of the Black women reportedly at the top of Biden’s list are qualified for the job.

The leading candidate is Jackson, a 51-year-old Harvard Law School graduate who clerked for Breyer on the Supreme Court. She is currently a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Yahoo News/YouGov poll showed 69% of Americans say she is qualified for the Supreme Court. Even among Republicans, 57% said she was qualified.

Kruger is a 45-year-old Yale Law School graduate who also clerked on the Supreme Court. She is now a judge on the California Supreme Court. The Yahoo News/YouGov poll said 65% of Americans say she is qualified for the Supreme Court, including 53% of Republicans.

The third top contender is Childs, who 70% of Americans say is qualified for the court, including 60% of Republicans. She is a 55-year-old graduate of the University of South Carolina Law School. Her supporters include conservative Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a fellow South Carolinian. She serves now as a judge for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for South Carolina.

Tom can be reached at [email protected]

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