A growing number of Democratic lawmakers called on President Joe Biden to keep a 2020 campaign pledge to pick a black woman to serve on the Supreme Court following reports saying Associate Justice Stephen Breyer will retire this year.
On June 30, 2020, for example, Biden said at a campaign event that he is “putting together a list of African-American women who are qualified and have the experience to be on the court” and added he’s “not going to release that until we go further down the line in vetting them as well.”
Several Democratic congressional members on Wednesday called on Biden to nominate a black woman.
“Justice Breyer has led an exemplary [and] distinguished career in public service. I’m grateful to him for all that he has done for our country,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, in a statement on Twitter. Murray added that she supports Biden’s previous “pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. The Court should reflect the diversity of our country.”
Said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) to Biden on Twitter: “You promised us a Black woman on the Supreme Court. Let’s see it happen.” Added Squad member Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), “It’s time for a Black woman on the Supreme Court.”
The White House has not made any statements on Biden’s next steps. Press secretary Jen Psaki wrote that the administration is aware of reports saying Breyer is planning on stepping down, while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated that he will move to expedite the nomination process.
“Biden’s nominee will receive a prompt hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and will be considered and confirmed by the full United States Senate with all deliberate speed,” Schumer, who confirmed anonymously sourced reports about Breyer’s retirement, said in a statement Wednesday.
Among Republicans, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday that he expects Democrats in the Senate to remain united to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who will reportedly retire at the end of his term in 2022.
“As to his replacement: If all Democrats hang together—which I expect they will—they have the power to replace Justice Breyer in 2022 without one Republican vote in support,” he said, adding that believes Breyer “has always shown great respect for the institution and his colleagues, and I wish him well in the next phase of his life.”
“Elections have consequences, and that is most evident when it comes to fulfilling vacancies on the Supreme Court,” Graham said.
As of now, it’s not clear who Biden might nominate to fill the pending Supreme Court vacancy, but some have speculated that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a former Breyer clerk who was recently placed on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, may be tapped by Biden. Another possibility is Judge Leondra Kruger, 45, who serves on the California Supreme Court.