President Joe Biden on Thursday said he’d announce his pick to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court before the end of February, and reiterated his pledge to nominate a Black woman to the high court.
Paying tribute to Breyer at the White House, Biden noted he’d long known him and called it a “bittersweet day.”
“His opinions are practical, sensible and nuanced,” Biden said, reflecting the belief that “the job of a judge is not to lay down a rule, but to get it right.”
Biden said he had not made any decisions on a candidate to replace Breyer. Some of the leading candidates include Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.
“The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity, and that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court,” Biden said. “It’s long overdue, in my view.”
A nominee to the high court requires a simple-majority vote in the Senate, where Democrats control 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris may break ties. Given the current party breakdown in the Senate, Republicans won’t be able to block Biden’s choice — provided Democrats all vote alike.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, predicted Democrats would hang together.
Two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have recently bucked their party over Biden’s Build Back Better bill and changing filibuster rules. But as the Washington Post reports, both have supported Biden’s lower court picks, including Brown Jackson, who is now on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.