White House: No “system game” on the choice of the Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will meet with leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court vacancy and the president’s promise to appoint a black woman to the High Court. Aides said Biden’s list of potential nominees was more than three.

The White House also on Monday pushed back against the idea that the president would be open to “gaming the system” by choosing a candidate based solely on his likelihood of garnering bipartisan support.

Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Ranking Minority Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, will meet with Biden at the White House to review potential candidates to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who has announced his retirement last week. Biden himself served as head of the Judiciary Committee when he was a senator and chaired the confirmations of six High Court picks, including Breyer.

“He is immersed in this process,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, “and eagerly awaits guidance from members of both parties on the Hill as well as the nation’s top legal and academic experts. . I think you’ll see those consultations begin this week.”

Biden has said since his campaign that he would nominate a black woman to the highest court in the land and he personally interviewed a few of the candidates when they were under consideration for a federal judicial nomination. Some Republicans have already expressed support for a candidate who is a frontrunner of South Carolina’s top Democratic ally, Rep. Jim Clyburn. But the White House pushed back on the idea of ​​picking a candidate just to gain bipartisan support, saying Biden would pick the best woman for the job, period.

“The president is going to select a woman, a black woman, who is qualified, who is prepared, who has impeccable experience to serve in the field. He is going to do it according to her credentials, of course by talking to her and not by playing on the system,” PSAki said.

The White House has yet to designate an official to lead the process. But White House officials expect top lawyers from the White House Legal Counsel’s Office as well as White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, who has decades of experience working on candidates, assist in the selection process. Biden has promised a pick by the end of February.

Among the candidates under consideration are Ketanji Brown Jackson, who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, U.S. District Court Judge Wilhelmina Wright of Minnesota and Melissa Murray, professor of law at New York University. who is an expert in family law and reproductive rights justice.

U.S. District Court J. Michelle Childs, who was appointed to the same appellate circuit where Jackson presides, is Clyburn’s pick. Republican sensitivities Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, both of South Carolina, voiced their support for Childs.

Breyer, 83, will retire at the end of the term. Any nominee by Biden will not affect the balance of the Supreme Court, which is tilting 6-3 in favor of the conservatives after President Donald Trump appointed three justices to the court.

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