With longtime Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer reportedly set to retire this year, who will President Joe Biden choose to replace him — and how?
Reports across the spectrum have highlighted two names: federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger. Jackson, 51, was recently confirmed to D.C.’s federal appeals court, and Kruger, 45, joined California’s highest court in 2015. Both women have also clerked on the Supreme Court. Biden promised in his presidential campaign to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court if given the chance. Previous election-year Supreme Court confirmations, such as those for Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, were highly partisan.
Voices across the spectrum say Jackson and Kruger are the clear frontrunners. Many left-rated voices highlighted the lack of black women serving as federal justices and celebrated how Biden’s nominee could change that. Some right-rated voices questioned Biden’s race- and gender-based criteria, and highlighted examples of when the Supreme Court ruled that preferring people for no reason other than race constitutes illegal discrimination. Voices on all sides reflected on Breyer’s career as pragmatic and principled, while some argued that his retirement in a key election year proves that the court has become a partisan political instrument. One analysis from Politico (Lean Left bias) argued that because Breyer’s retirement was long expected and because the new justice won’t shift the court’s ideological balance, the confirmation process may be less partisan than expected.