Who is Michelle Childs, considered to succeed Breyer on the Supreme Court?
The White House has confirmed that Michelle Childs is one of several candidates to replace Justice Breyers on the Supreme Court. Who is she?
President Joe Biden, when on the campaign trail, said that he would nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court if given the chance. With Justice Stephen Breyer’s decision to step down at the end of this year’s term, Biden has reaffirmed that pledge.
The White House has confirmed the first possible candidate that may fill Justice Breyer’s seat on the high court, naming Judge J Michelle Childs as one of several potential nominees Biden is considering. The announcement came after a scheduled Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for her appointment to the DC Circuit next week was quietly postponed.
Michelle Childs is appealing because of her blue-collar background
Judge Childs currently serves on the federal district court in South Carolina, a seat she was nominated to by President Obama in 2010. A close ally of President Biden, US Representative James Clyburn, has been making the case that Judge Childs should be promoted to the Supreme Court. He thinks she would be particularly appealing because she came from a blue-collar background and graduated from state universities which are groups underrepresented among federal judges, let alone the Supreme Court. Clyburn warns that Democrats need to be “very careful” not to be “painted with that elitist brush.”
Clyburn’s recommendation carries weight as he was credited with salvaging Biden’s candidacy with a crucial primary win in South Carolina. Clyburn, the majority whip and third-ranking Democrat in the House, was also the one who got Biden to commit to nominating the first Black woman to the high court at the end of a debate just prior to the primary that saw a reversal of the then-candidate’s fortunes.
Who is Judge J Michelle Childs?
Judge Childs is considered an expert in employment and labor law. She earned a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of South Florida. She went on to get a master’s degree in personnel and employment relations as well as her law degree from the University of South Carolina.
After graduation she worked for the law firm Nexsen Pruet, LLC, where she became the firm's first African American partner. She was elected to Richland County Circuit Court in 2006 by the South Carolina General Assembly where she served until taking up her current position as a US Circuit Judge.
Biden is considering multiple individuals for the Supreme Court
In December, Biden nominated Judge Childs to the influential US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, considered the second-most influential court in the country and often a steppingstone to the Supreme Court. She was set to have a Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, but that was postponed. Upon inquiries the White House released a statement on Friday confirming her as a possible nominee to the high court.
"Judge Childs is among multiple individuals under consideration for the Supreme Court,” said Andrew Bates, the White House spokesperson. “We are not going to move her nomination on the Court of Appeals while the president is considering her for this vacancy."
Bates went on to say "At the same time, reporting indicating that the president is only seriously considering three potential nominees is incorrect." Adding that Childs is “among multiple individuals under consideration for the Supreme Court.”
Other potential Biden nominees for the Supreme Court
Biden has set a deadline for the end of February to name his pick to replace Justice Breyer at the Supreme Court. He has tapped a team to help him make the selection from a list of perhaps ten people. Biden is expected to begin meeting with candidates as soon as next week. "Our process is going to be rigorous. I will select a nominee worthy of Justice Breyer's legacy of excellence and decency,” Biden said.
Two of the other main contenders for the position that have been reported include Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, currently on the DC appeals court, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger. Sherrilyn Ifill, a prominent civil rights lawyer who heads the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, has also been mentioned as a possible nominee.
According to Washington Post sources other potential candidates are North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls, Melissa Murray, a York University law professor and Minnesota federal District Judge Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright.