By Spencer M-D. ’25
President Biden is currently facing one of the toughest decisions of his presidency: the vacancy left by Justice Breyer gives Biden his first opportunity to nominate a member of the highest judicial power in the country. With such a decision on his mind, he has many possible replacements. Before getting into his top three nominees it is important to keep in mind that Biden has promised to nominate women of color and intends to use this nomination to do so.
Biden has a slate of highly qualified candidates and intends to name his nominee by the end of the month. While all the candidates on the list have the potential to be named to the court there are three women who have emerged from the pack and are widely considered front runners.
The California Supreme Court Justice has been a force to be reckoned with in her current position as she has made many important decisions and in the eyes of many has expanded the public’s trust in her as Justice and in the Courts Judicial system. Prior to her position as Acting Principal Deputy Solicitor General, she argued 11 cases in front of the US Supreme Court and regardless of her success rate she put up incredible arguments proving her skill as an attorney. At 45, Kruger would immediately become the youngest justice in recent court history. Her father is a Jew whose family emigrated from Europe and her mother is an immigrant from Jamaica.
Ketanji Brown Jackson
Currently serving on the D.C. Court of Appeals touted as the second-highest in the country, Judge Brown Jackson has made her name well known as a candidate for the new vacancy before President Biden was elected. Judge Brown Jackson began her career clerking for Justice Breyer and then worked in small legal positions, most notably as a public defender in the D.C. circuit. Later she was nominated to the U.S. sentencing commission, which provides the guidelines for sentencing in federal courts. After three years of service on that commission, President Obama nominated her to the D.C. Circuit Court where she stayed until Biden recently nominated her to the appellate court. Judge Brown Jackson is 51 years of age, only a year older than Justice Barrett.
J. Michelle Childs
Judge J. Michelle Childs from South Carolina has been a name supported by people, including Jim Clyburn, who was instrumental in Joe Biden’s Primary victory. She began in state government in the South Carolina Department of Labor. She later was chosen by the South Carolina General Assembly to serve as Richland County Judge. Later during the Obama administration with the push of Jim Clyburn, Childs was nominated to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina where she has served since. Judge Childs early in the Biden administration was nominated to the D.C. The Court of Appeals however has been stalled as she is under consideration to the Supreme Court. Childs is 55 years of age, older than Barrett but younger than the other Justice currently serving.
Opinion: Whom I Would Pick
I believe that the replacement of the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer should be California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger. She has proven herself to be an exemplary justice and one who deserves the opportunity to serve on a higher court. As Acting Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, she did exemplary work within the field of social justice and furthered the cause of law. As a justice in her current capacity on the California Supreme Court, she has strengthened public trust in the court and increased the reliability of not just that court’s decisions, but those around the state. Further, I commend her work on the case of National Lawyers Guild v. City of Hayward where she improved the way in which people can access police body camera footage. She has strived towards making the government transparent and accountable by putting the check that is required by both the US Constitution and the California one. The case Barry v. State Bar of California also represents her exemplary work, along with providing a precedent for the way in which SLAPP suits should be conducted in other states and at a federal level. In her capacity at the office of the solicitor general she argued a case of note— Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission— in which she shocked the sitting justices with the position of the First Amendment not protecting a school church’s right to fire a teacher who is also a minister. While her case did not end up as a success, it showed her extreme legal know-how and skill within the courtroom.