Who Will Biden Choose as His Supreme Court Nominee? - See the Odds
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Who Will Biden Choose as His Supreme Court Nominee?
News of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s plans to retire at the end of the current Supreme Court term in June upended Washington, DC on Wednesday. Breyer has been a justice on America’s highest court since 1994, when President Bill Clinton appointed him.
As the Supreme Court’s oldest member, Breyer’s future had been a focus of Democrat concern for some time — and especially after the September 2020 death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg allowed Republicans to replace a liberal stalwart with a young conservative, Justice Amy Coney Barrett. So, his departure has been seen as welcomed news for many Democrats and left-leaning advocates. It also gives President Joe Biden his first opportunity to shape the court with a nominee of his choosing, as well as potentially reset the mood for Democrats heading into November’s midterm elections.
The expected installation of Breyer’s replacement amounts to a shot at a political win for a White House desperately in need of it amid sagging poll numbers, high inflation, a retreating stock market and a series of key legislative defeats on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reacted to the word of Breyer’s planned resignation by stressing that Senate Democrats are prepared to move quickly on any nominee Biden puts forward.
And with a series of rule changes over the past decade in the Senate, meaning that Republicans have no obvious mechanism to block a Biden nominee, Senate Democrats have the numbers to confirm a new justice if they stay together. Vice President Kamala Harris would then cast the tie-breaking vote in the evenly divided Senate.
Biden vowed multiple times during his 2020 presidential campaign to appoint the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and his comments on Thursday leave no doubt he will do so.
“I’ve made no decision except one: The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character experience and integrity. And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It’s long overdue in my view. I made that commitment during my campaign for president, and I will keep that commitment,” said Biden.
Biden's Potential Supreme Court Justice Nominations
Among the women who have been discussed as potential candidates to replace Breyer are Ketanji Brown Jackson, who serves on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit; California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger; and J. Michelle Childs, a federal district judge in South Carolina who has the support of key Biden ally, House Minority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC). Judge Eunice Lee, Circuit Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi and prominent civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill have also been floated as potential candidates.
The political betting website, PredictIt, currently has Brown Jackson listed as the early favorite to be Biden’s Supreme Court nominee at 68¢. Kruger follows her at 24¢, Childs at 15¢ and, perhaps surprisingly, Biden’s vice president is fourth at 3¢.
Multiple reporters at a White House briefing inquired about Harris’ chances of being nominated on Wednesday, pointing to the fact that she was a former California attorney general. Biden has said he intends to run alongside Harris in 2024 — and she said she’s not interested in the job. But clearly, traders think the proposition is worth considering — even at a long shot.
Early odds on the number of votes to confirm a Supreme Court nominee stand at 20¢ for “51 votes” — which would mean that no Republicans vote in favor and Harris has to cast the tie-breaking vote. While traders expect Democrats to get their nominee confirmed before the end of 2022 at 92¢, they aren’t expecting a confirmation by April 1 — pricing a “yes” outcome at just 15¢.