Biden Has Chance To Put First Black Woman On Supreme Court With Justice Stephen Breyer's Retirement

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Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021, in Washington, DC. Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit, testified on the first panel.
Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021, in Washington, DC. Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit, testified on the first panel.

According to NBC News, after serving on the Supreme Court for more than two decades, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has decided to retire. Justice Breyer pushed for Obamacare and affirmative action in higher education. But as we look ahead, there is a history-making decision now in President Biden’s hands when it comes to who he appoints to take the seat.

On the 2020 campaign trail, President Biden promised that he would nominate a Black woman should a seat be vacant in the Supreme Court if elected. Right now, Black women only make up 3% of the judiciary–Biden has made progress on the appellate side, nominating eight Black women. Still, no Black woman in this country’s history has ever had a chance to the higher court.

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NPR has noted two very qualified candidates that will be on Biden’s radar:

The two leading contenders are said to be federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was on President Obama’s shortlist for the court in 2016, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, who served as assistant, and then deputy solicitor general in both Democratic and Republican administrations prior to her nomination to California’s highest court.

When Judge Brown Jackson was nominated for a seat on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last year, she got support from all 50 Democrats and three Republicans in a 53-44 vote. She succeeded Merrick Garland, the now attorney general. Jackson is a former public defender, previously clerked for Breyer, served on President Barack Obama’s Sentencing Commission, and was named on Obama’s Supreme Court shortlist in 2016.

Both of these women are young and highly qualified for the position. As noted by the 19th News, “just 40 Black women are “active,” or full-time federal judges.” This would be an incredible step–with all the setbacks we’ve experienced with voting rights and racial politics in general. It will also signal that the Biden administration is committed to elevating talented Black women to the places untouched by history prior.

Our Supreme Court needs younger, more diverse voices–with upcoming rulings on abortion rights and affirmative action, this can’t come soon enough. If there’s any push to stall this potential vote, please remember Republicans rushed the nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett through the Senate eight days before the 2020 election,