WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden is narrowing the field for his first Supreme Court pick, as Stephen Breyer, a justice and longtime champion of liberal causes, plans to retire from the high court.
This gives Biden his first chance to nominate a Supreme Court justice.
According to the Associated Press, Breyer’s departure isn’t expected until this summer. And even though it won’t change the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, it will give Democrats a chance to secure a liberal seat for many years to come.
Biden, as a presidential candidate, previously said if he were given the chance to nominate someone to the court, he would make history by choosing a Black woman.
The president on Thursday affirmed his pledge, saying it was "long overdue." He praised Breyer as a model public servant and promised a nominee by the end of February.
Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday that the president stands by his commitment to nominate a Black woman to the seat.
"Well, I've commented on this previously. The president has stated and reiterated his commitment to nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court and certainly stands by that for today," said Psaki. "Again, I'm just not going to be able to say anything about any specifics until, of course, Justice Breyer makes any announcement should he decide to make an announcement."
Below is a list of names being circulated as potential nominees:
(Credit: California Courts: The Judicial Branch of California)
Leondra Kruger serves as a justice on the California Supreme Court. She is also a veteran of the U.S. Solicitor General’s office.
Kruger, 45, graduated from Harvard and Yale’s law school, where she served as a law clerk on the high court, before serving in the department as an assistant to the solicitor general and as acting deputy solicitor general. During her tenure in the Office of the Solicitor General, she argued 12 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court’s behalf of the federal government. In 2013 and in 2014, she received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the department’s highest award for employee performance.
Immediately before joining the court, Kruger served in the United States Department of Justice as a deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.
From 2007 to 2013, Kruger had previously been in private practice, where she specialized in appellate and Supreme Court litigation, and taught as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School.
A native of the Los Angeles area, Justice Kruger attended high school in Pasadena.
Ketanji Brown Jackson
Photo of Ketanji Brown Jackson (Credit: Getty Images)
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed last year to the DC-based appellate court as a U.S. Circuit Judge.
From 2013 until 2021, she served as a United States District Judge, and until December of 2014, she also served as a vice-chair and commissioner on the United States Sentencing Commission.
Former President Barack Obama nominated her to be a district court judge, and Biden elevated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Prior to her four years of service on the Sentencing Commission, Jackson, 51, worked for three years as Of Counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP, with a practice that focused on criminal and civil appellate litigation in both state and federal courts, as well as cases in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Jackson is currently a member of the Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Services, as well as the Board of Overseers of Harvard University and the Council of the American Law Institute. She also currently serves on the board of Georgetown Day School and the United States Supreme Court Fellows Commission.
Jackson attended Harvard as an undergraduate for law school, and early in her career, she was also a law clerk for Breyer.
Holly Thomas was confirmed as a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January of 2022, making her the second Black woman to serve on the Ninth Circuit.
She previously served as a judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court in California and was formerly an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She also worked as a deputy director of California's housing and employment agency and special counsel to the New York solicitor general.
The San Diego native earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and received a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 2004.
Republicans had objected to her nomination to the Ninth Circuit, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accusing her of being an "activist advocate" during her confirmation process.
Michelle Childs serves as the district judge for the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, a position she has held since 2010. She was recently nominated for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
According to the White House, Childs served as a state court trial judge on the South Carolina Circuit Court from 2006 to 2010. She was also a commissioner on the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission from 2002 to 2006. She served as the deputy director of the Division of Labor at the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation from 2000 to 2002.
From 1992 to 2000, Judge Childs was an associate and then partner at the law firm of Nexsen Pruet, LLC in Columbia, South Carolina.
Childs received her L.L.M. in Judicial Studies from Duke University School of Law in 2016. She received both her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law and her M.A. in Personnel and Employment Relations from the University of South Carolina School of Business in 1991. Judge Childs received her B.A., cum laude, from the University of South Florida in 1988.
Vice President Kamala Harris
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to highlight investments made by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in wildfire preparedness and resilience in San Bernardino, California, U.S., on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Though she’s currently serving as vice president, Kamala Harris could also be a potential nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. The 57-year-old served as California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 before launching an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2019.
If nominated and confirmed, it would put Washington in a delicate situation. As the vice president, Harris serves as the tiebreaker for votes at the U.S. Senate.
Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi
Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit, testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo By Tom Williams-Poo
Candace Rae Jackson-Akiwumi currently serves as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She has held that position since 2021.
According to the White House, Jackson began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge Patti Saris on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts from 1996 to 1997 and then for Judge Bruce Selya on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit from 1997 to 1998. She was an associate at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin LLP from 1998 to 1999. She clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1999 to 2000. Judge Jackson was an associate at Goodwin Proctor LLP in Boston, Massachusetts from 2000 to 2002 and an associate at Feinberg Rozen, LLP (formerly The Feinberg Group, LLP) in Washington, D.C. from 2002 to 2003.
From 2003 to 2005, Jackson served as an assistant special counsel for the United States Sentencing Commission, and from 2005 to 2007, she also served as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C. From 2007 to 2010, Jackson was of counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP where her practice focused on criminal and civil appellate litigation in both state and federal courts, as well as cases in the Supreme Court.
Jackson received her J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1996. She received an A.B., magna cum laude, from Harvard College in 1992.
Judge Sri Srinivasan
Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, Srikanth Srinivasan testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill Wednesday April 10, 2013 in Washington DC. U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Sirnivasan to be circuit
Sri Srinivasan currently serves as the chief United States circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. According to the court’s website, he graduated from Stanford University in 1989 and Stanford Law School and Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1995.
Following graduation, he served as a law clerk to Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the U.S. Solicitor General, and as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In 1998, he joined the law firm O’Melveny & Myers.
From 2002 to 2007, he served as an assistant to the solicitor general. In 2007 he returned to O’Melveny & Myers as a partner, later becoming chair of the firm's appellate and Supreme Court practice. From 2011 until his appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Srinivasan served as the principal deputy solicitor general of the United States. He has taught appellate advocacy at Harvard Law School and currently teaches a seminar on civil rights statutes and the Supreme Court at Georgetown University Law Center.
Photo of Elizabeth Prelogar (Credit: U.S. Department of Justice)
Elizabeth Prelogar is solicitor general of the United States, a position she has held since October 2021.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s website, before her confirmation as Solicitor General, she served as acting solicitor general and principal deputy solicitor general for nearly seven months. She also served as an assistant to the solicitor general from 2014 to 2019.
After graduating from Harvard Law School, Prelogar clerked for Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She then completed consecutive clerkships for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Elena Kagan.
After her clerkships, she worked as an associate in the appellate group at Hogan Lovells LLP. She later became a partner at Cooley LLP, where she focused on Supreme Court and appellate litigation.
District Judge Wilhelmina "Mimi" Wright
Wilhelmina "Mimi" Wright currently serves as a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. She was nominated for the position by former President Barack Obama and confirmed in 2016.
According to the Minnesota Bar Association, Wright was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2012, becoming the first female African-American justice on the high court’s bench. Wright, a Harvard Law School graduate, served previously on the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Ramsey County District Court. Before becoming a judge, she worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for Minnesota. She also worked in private practice in Washington, D.C.
Circuit Judge Eunice Lee
Eunice C. Lee, nominee to be U.S. circuit judge for the Second Circuit, is sworn in during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for judicial nominees in Hart Building on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc
Eunice Lee was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in August 2021.
According to the court’s website, she received her B.A., summa cum laude, in 1993 from Ohio State University. She then graduated in 1996 from Yale Law School. After that, she served as a law clerk first to Judge Susan J. Dlott on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and then to Judge Eric L. Clay on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
From 1998 to 2019, Lee worked at the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City. She also served as an adjunct assistant professor of clinical law at New York University School of Law from 2003 to 2019.
Lee was an assistant federal defender in the appeals bureau of the Federal Defenders of New York from 2019 until her appointment to the bench.
(Credit: Getty Images)
Sherrilyn Ifill is the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s oldest and premier civil rights law organization fighting for racial justice and equality.
The LDF was founded in 1940 by legendary civil rights lawyer (and later Supreme Court justice) Thurgood Marshall, and became a separate organization from the NAACP in 1957.
Ifill began her career with the American Civil Liberties Union, where she litigated voting rights cases.
She currently serves on President Joe Biden’s Commission on the Supreme Court.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this story.