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Biden weighing more than a dozen candidates for Supreme Court vacancy

Clyburn on what it would mean to have a Black woman on Supreme Court
Clyburn discusses what it would mean to have a Black woman on the Supreme Court 07:39

Washington — President Biden is considering more than a dozen candidates to succeed retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court, a source familiar with the process told CBS News, with a pool of prospective nominees that ranges from the federal bench to academia.

The White House confirmed last week that U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs is among the women Mr. Biden is weighing as his nominee to the high court. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who sits on the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger are also among the names floated to fill the forthcoming vacancy.

While the list is not exhaustive, the source said the three are joined as possible candidates by:

  • Judge Holly Thomas of the 9th Circuit

  • Judge Tiffany Cunningham of the Federal Circuit

  • Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi of the 7th Circuit

  • Judge Eunice Lee of the 2nd Circuit

  • Judge Wilhelmina Wright of the federal district court in Minnesota

  • Nancy Abudu, Mr. Biden's nominee to the 11th Circuit

  • Arianna Freeman, Mr. Biden's nominee to the 3rd Circuit

  • North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls

  • Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

  • Melissa Murray, New York University law professor

Mr. Biden will meet with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois and its top Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa at the White House on Tuesday "to consult with them and hear their advice about this vacancy," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

Breyer announced last week he will be retiring from the Supreme Court at the end of its current term assuming a successor has been confirmed. The senior member of the court's liberal bloc, Breyer, appointed in 1994, was the focus of an intense pressure campaign from progressive groups pushing him to step down and allow Mr. Biden to fill his seat while Democrats narrowly control the Senate.

Breyer's retirement positions the president to make history with his nominee, as Mr. Biden reiterated last week he will stick to his campaign pledge to name the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. The president intends to announce his nominee before the end of February, he said.

Several of the candidates said to be under consideration were appointed or nominated to the federal circuit courts by Mr. Biden, and Ifill served on the president's commission on the Supreme Court, which examined proposals for reforming the high court.

The president tapped Jackson, considered a frontrunner, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year, while Childs has in her corner a powerful supporter in Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

Clyburn, the House majority whip, was the architect behind Mr. Biden's promise to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, and his endorsement of then-candidate Biden in 2020 marked a turning point in the Democratic presidential primaries. 

South Carolina Lindsey Graham, a Republican, also praised Childs on Sunday, telling "Face the Nation" that he "can't think of a better person for President Biden to consider to the Supreme Court than Michelle Childs."

Graham was among the three Republicans — along with Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — who voted to confirm Jackson and Jackson-Akiwumi to the D.C. Circuit and 7th Circuit, respectively. A number of GOP senators also backed Cunningham to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears patent appeals and certain civil cases.

Weijia Jiang contributed to this report.

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