Supreme Court Nominations

White House confirms potential Supreme Court nominee as the short list grows

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AP J Michelle Childs

Judge J. Michelle Childs, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, listens during her nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in April 2010. President Joe Biden has already narrowed the field for his first U.S. Supreme Court pick. One potential nominee is Childs. File photo by Charles Dharapak/The Associated Press.

The White House confirmed Friday that U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs is among several Black women being considered for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The confirmation came after a hearing on Childs’ nomination to a federal appeals court was put on hold, while President Joe Biden considers her to replace retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer, a White House spokesperson said.

Reuters, the Washington Post and USA Today are among the publications with coverage.

Childs is currently a federal judge based in Columbia, South Carolina, for the District of South Carolina who has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law and a former state judge.

Childs has had leadership posts in the ABA. They include serving as chair of the ABA’s Judicial Division, as a member of the ABA House of Delegates and as secretary of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section.

Childs spoke with the ABA Journal when she was chair of the Judicial Division, which was working with the Section of Litigation’s Committee on the American Judicial System to recruit volunteers for Judicial Outreach Week.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates stressed that “multiple individuals” are under consideration along with Childs, according to the Washington Post.

“Reporting indicating that the president is only seriously considering three potential nominees is incorrect,” he said.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson headshot U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. File photo from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Past reports indicated that Childs could be a front-runner, along with U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the D.C. Circuit and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.

Childs got some support Sunday from Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, report the Washington Post, CBS News and CNN (via How Appealing).

Graham told Face the Nation on CBS News that he “can’t think of a better person for President Biden to consider for the Supreme Court than Michelle Childs.”

Graham said Childs has wide support in South Carolina, and she is “incredibly qualified” and there is “no affirmative action component” if she is nominated.

“She’s considered to be a fair-minded, highly gifted jurist. She’s one of the most decent people I’ve ever met,” he said.

Childs also has the support of U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, the House majority whip and a Democrat of South Carolina.

The Washington Post, USA Today and CNN reported on other potential nominees, besides Jackson and Kruger, who were named by anonymous sources.

Justice Leondra Kruger headshotCalifornia Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger. Photo from the Judicial Council of California.

They are:

• Nancy Abudu, nominated to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Atlanta. She is currently the strategic litigation director at the Southern Poverty Law Center. She was previously legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. She is a graduate of Tulane University Law School.

• U.S. Circuit Judge Tiffany Cunningham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. She is a former partner at Perkins Coie and a graduate of Harvard Law School.

• North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls. Earls was formerly deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and a lawyer with the University of North Carolina’s Center for Civil Rights. She is a graduate of Yale Law School.

• Arianna Freeman, nominated to the 3rd Circuit at Philadelphia. She is a managing attorney with the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She is a graduate of Yale Law School.

• Sherrilyn Ifill, the outgoing president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Ifill is a graduate of the New York University School of Law and a former law professor at the University of Maryland.

• Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi of the 7th Circuit at Chicago. Jackson-Akiwumi is a former public defender and a former partner at Zuckerman Spaeder.

• Judge Eunice Lee of the 2nd Circuit at New York. She is a Yale Law School graduate and a former federal public defender.

• Melissa Murray, a professor at the NYU School of Law. Murray is a Yale Law School graduate who clerked for Justice Sonia Sotomayor when Sotomayor was a federal appeals judge.

• Judge Holly A. Thomas of the 9th Circuit at San Francisco. She is a Yale Law School graduate and a former state court judge in Los Angeles. She has also worked at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

• U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright of Minnesota, who formerly served on Minnesota’s supreme and appellate courts. She is a Harvard Law School graduate and a former federal prosecutor.

Updated Feb. 1 at 8:45 a.m. to include ABA information.

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