The Senate confirmed Judge J. Michelle Childs on Tuesday to the second highest court in the nation, a judge who was rumored to be on President Joe Biden’s shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees earlier this year.
Fifteen Republicans voted for Childs, a U.S. district judge for South Carolina, who was confirmed in a 64 to 34 vote to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Should the Democrats lose the Senate in the midterm elections this fall, and should Biden have an opportunity to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, she could potentially garner bipartisan support.
“It’s one of the most important votes we’re going to take all this year,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), according to The Hill. “The D.C. Circuit is so important. It’s probably the second-most important circuit in the country.”
“So loads of decisions particularly those related to government and Congress and balance of power go through the D.C. Circuit,” he added.
The Senate has just confirmed Judge Michelle Childs to the DC Circuit! She’s a remarkable jurist, and she’s now the fourth Black woman ever to sit on the DC Circuit. pic.twitter.com/GXSt81Peei
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 19, 2022
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who voted for Childs, noted matter of factly that she could be on a path headed to the Supreme Court.
“It’s a pretty well-established pathway, but obviously it depends on a lot of circumstances we can’t guess about, but it probably doesn’t hurt her,” Cornyn said, The Hill reported.
Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who also voted for Childs, had high praise for her earlier this year as Biden mulled his Supreme Court pick to replace Stephen Breyer. He ultimately went with Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson following pressure from Democratic activists.
Sen. Lindsey Graham praised U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs, a possible candidate on the Supreme Court, on Sunday, saying he "can't think of a better person" for President Biden to consider. https://t.co/IV4RtkPYeA pic.twitter.com/GmzTeS89Ab
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 31, 2022
While only three Republicans voted for Jackson to join the nation’s highest court in April, Graham had argued he could have won 10 votes for Childs, The Hill reported.
“Judge Childs has been a district court judge for ten years, and she is highly respected by every corner of the legal community in South Carolina,” Graham said in late May. “Judge Childs would not have been chosen by a conservative Republican president, but she is highly qualified to do the job. She has earned a reputation of following the law as it is written, being fair, and having a disposition that lawyers enjoy being in front of. Judge Childs wears the robe well.”
Ultimately, 13 other Republicans aside from Graham and Cornyn voted for Childs on Tuesday, including Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Tim Scott (R-SC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Todd Young (R-IN).
Ahead of the November 2020 election, Childs drew attention for striking down a rule that required mail-in absentee ballots to be signed by witnesses. The judge cited fears that both South Carolina voters and witnesses would be put at risk of the pandemic if they voted in person.
“The evidence in the record points to the conclusion that adherence to the Witness Requirement in November would only increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 for members of the public with underlying medical conditions, the disabled, and racial and ethnic minorities,” Childs wrote at the time.