Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the high-ranking House Democrat credited with resurrecting Joe Biden’s trailing 2020 presidential campaign in the South Carolina primary, reportedly held a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris this month to float a South Carolina judge for the Supreme Court.
The New York Times, citing a Democrat briefed on the conversation, reports that Clyburn floated the idea of nominating District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs, 54, should a Supreme Court vacancy open up soon. A graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law, Childs was reportedly the first black woman to be made partner at a major firm in the state and has previously served as a top official in the South Carolina labor department.
Childs also worked on the South Carolina workers’ compensation board for several years, then as a circuit court judge, before then-President Barack Obama nominated her to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina in 2010.
“She is the kind of person who has the sort of experiences that would make her a good addition to the Supreme Court,” Clyburn reportedly said.
While the Supreme Court doesn’t have any vacancies, Justice Stephen Breyer, who was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994, is currently 82-years-old, and many Democrats hope he will retire under the Biden administration. Doing so would allow Biden to appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court, which he promised he would do while on the campaign trail.
Although Clyburn has allegedly been floating Childs, the names of others have circulated among Democrats as well.
In a column for The Washington Post, deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus reported that Washington, D.C., District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a “leading contender” to replace Merrick Garland on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. If she were appointed, Jackson would be another candidate to replace Breyer — a justice she clerked for while at Harvard Law School — if he were to retire in the coming years.
Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, is also a possible contender for any future Supreme Court vacancies. The New York Times, however, reports that she has also told people she’s considering a Senate run in 2022, having lost a bid for re-election on the state Supreme Court in November.
Neither Childs nor Beasley attended Harvard or Yale Law School, which have produced every current Supreme Court Justice with the exception of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who both attended and taught at the Notre Dame School of Law. But that also may not be a hindering factor anymore, considering recent efforts by politicians to look more outside the alumni of those two schools for candidates.
For example, many of the candidates on former President Donald Trump’s vacancy list attended institutions other than Harvard and Yale, such as the University of Chicago Law School, Stanford Law School, and Duke University School of Law. The New York Times reports that some high-ranking Democrats also want to move the party in a similar direction, away from only seeking Supreme Court nominees with Ivy League law credentials.
“When people talk to diversity they are always looking at race and ethnicity — I look beyond that to diversity of experience,” said Clyburn in a Twitter post sharing the Times’ article.
When people talk to diversity they are always looking at race and ethnicity — I look beyond that to diversity of experience. https://t.co/la47pSwkxs
— James E. Clyburn (@WhipClyburn) February 21, 2021