trumpet.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

These are the people believed to be frontrunners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

President Biden has said he plans to make his mind up about who to nominate to the Supreme Court by the end of February.
Chip Somodevilla
/
Getty Images
President Biden has said he plans to make his mind up about who to nominate to the Supreme Court by the end of February.

The White House sees a broad field of candidates for President Biden to consider when making his pick to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, a source familiar with the White House's thinking said on Friday.

Biden has pledged that he will choose a Black woman for the job, a first for the court and something he said is long overdue. Among court-watchers and Democrats, the frontrunners for the position are believed to be:

  • Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, who was on former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court shortlist in 2016
  • California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, a former deputy solicitor general
  • Judge J. Michelle Childs of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, who has been championed by Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, and nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • But the White House has not limited its scope to those three potential candidates, and is looking at a broader list in the early stages, the source said, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    A former federal defender from Chicago is among the potential candidates

    Another potential top candidate is Judge Candace Rae Jackson-Akiwumi, who was nominated by Biden last year to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Jackson-Akiwumi is a former partner with Zuckerman Spaeder who spent a decade as a federal defender in Chicago.

    On Thursday Biden promised a "rigorous" search for a nominee. "I will listen carefully to all the advice I'm given, and I will study the records and former cases carefully. I'll meet with the potential nominees," Biden said, setting a goal of an announcement by the end of February.

    Biden has said he plans to consult Vice President Harris, as well as scholars and lawyers, and will invite senators from both parties to offer ideas.

    "The fact that no Black woman has been nominated shows a deficiency of the past selection processes, not a lack of qualified candidates to be nominated to the Supreme Court," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday, noting Biden has worked to nominate more African American women to the circuit court than any other president before him.

    Biden has begun reviewing potential Supreme Court candidates' biographies prepared by his chief of staff Ron Klain and White House counsel Dana Remus, Psaki said.

    Biden paid tribute to retiring US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer this week, saying he would pick someone worthy of carrying on the liberal justice's legacy.
    Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    Biden paid tribute to retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer this week, saying he would pick someone worthy of carrying on the liberal justice's legacy.

    The list includes some people recently nominated to the federal bench

    The source listed several other potential candidates the White House is reviewing at this early stage, though they are viewed as longshots by people involved in the nominating process. Those names include federal judges like Holly Thomas of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who was only confirmed to the federal bench earlier this month.

    Other potential candidates include federal judges Tiffany Cunningham of the Federal Circuit; Eunice Lee of the Second Circuit; and Wilhelmina Wright of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. Two lawyers who Biden has nominated for judgeships but are not yet confirmed are also on the list: Nancy Abudu, nominated to the 11th Circuit, and Arianna Freeman, nominated to the Third Circuit.

    The list also includes North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls; Sherilynn Ifill, a civil rights lawyer and the outgoing president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; and Melissa Murray, a professor of law at NYU.

    NPR's Carrie Johnson contributed to this story.

    Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.