President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he had thoroughly reviewed about four “well qualified and documented” candidates to fill Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the bench.
Biden, who has vowed to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, told NBC’s Lester Holt that he’d done the “deep dive” on those contenders, making sure there was nothing in their background checks that might disqualify them.
“The shortlist are nominees who are incredibly well qualified and documented,” Biden said. “They were the honor students. They come from the best universities. They have experience, some on the bench, some in the practice of law.”
The White House has confirmed that South Carolina federal Judge J. Michelle Childs, the favorite of Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), is under consideration, as well as multiple others. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger are other names being circulated as top contenders.
The president has said he will seek advice from members of both parties as he makes his selection. He has already talked with a number of Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Senate Judiciary ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Biden said on Thursday that he expected his selection to get votes from the opposing party during the confirmation process.
“I think whomever I pick will get a vote from the Republican side for the following reason — I’m not looking to make an ideological choice here,” Biden said in a clip from his interview with Holt. “I’m looking for someone who can replace Judge Breyer, with the same kind of capacity Judge Breyer had. With an open mind, who understands the Constitution, interprets it in a way that is consistent with the mainstream interpretation of the Constitution.”
Biden hosted Senate Judiciary Democrats at the White House on Thursday afternoon to discuss the vacancy. Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), echoing the president, said Democrats’ focus was to garner bipartisan support for Biden’s nominee.
Durbin and other members of the committee touted the historic nature of Biden’s selection and said they were excited about the candidates the president discussed during the meeting. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) talked about the need to pick someone “persuasive” who can “reset” an increasingly divided Supreme Court.
“Republicans will have no choice but to support her in some number,” Blumenthal said.
Durbin wouldn’t confirm the number of candidates Biden is considering and said the list is longer than the public knows. He had no updates on Biden’s timeline for picking a nominee by the end of the month but said the president would be meeting with nominees “soon.”
“He’s going to take up meeting with the nominees soon,” Durbin said. “We encouraged him to do it the right way. But we’re anxious to get started.”