With Justice Stephen Breyer stepping down, President Joe Biden has pledged to appoint a Black woman to the nation’s highest court.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer made waves after announcing his retirement after 28 years on the bench. As the oldest member at 83, Breyer’s exit gives way to an all-star pool of candidates who could be nominated by President Joe Biden as the next justice for the nation’s highest court.
President Joe Biden has been clear that his intentions are to nominate a Black woman to the bench after former President Donald Trump pushed through three justices in Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett during his four-year term. It gave the court a 6-3 conservative majority.
Those tides will undoubtedly remain in favor of the current majority for some time, but this gives Biden an opportunity to bring his promise of diversity and the federal level to light and potentially appoint the first Black woman to sit on the respected Supreme Court bench.
(Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)
According to the Federal Judicial Center, Black women make up around 3 percent of sitting federally appointed judges, pointing to the long-held belief that racism and sexism in the upper echelon of the legal world presents a major barrier.
Below, theGrio took a look at the potential nominations for Supreme Court justice, which includes seven vastly qualified women who could replace Breyer on the bench and usher in a new age.
Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is currently a circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)
Ketanji Brown Jackson is currently a circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Brown Jackson, 51, was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Miami, Fla. She completed her entire academic career at Harvard University, obtaining her JD degree in 1996.
Most consider the D.C. Circuit to be the second most influential federal court in the nation, and some experts viewed President Biden’s 2021 appointment of Brown Jackson as a leadup to a potential Supreme Court justice nomination.
J. Michelle Childs
Judge J. Michelle Childs, shown in 2010, is currently a U.S. District Court Judge for South Carolina. She’s been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Joe Biden. (Photo: Charles Dharapak/AP, File)
J. Michelle Childs Is currently a district judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama in 2010. Childs, 55, was also a circuit court for South Carolina previously. Childs holds the distinction of being the first Black woman named partner of a major law firm in the state and is something of a legal outlier considering she did not attend a major law school institution. Childs obtained her JD from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1991.
Deputy assistant U.S. attorney general Leondra Kruger (Credit: (S. Todd Rogers/Pool via AP, File)
Leondra Kruger is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California and was previously the Acting Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States in 2020. Krugar, 45. was the first Black woman to serve in the role and worked as a member of the Justice Department under President Barack Obama.
Kruger, the daughter of a Jamaican mother and Jewish father, was appointed to her current role by former California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015. Kruger obtained her JD degree from Yale Law School and is the first Black woman to serve as the editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal.
President and Director-Counsel of the LDF Sherrilyn Ifill speaks onstage during the Legal Defense Fund Annual Gala to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Brown V. Board of Education at the New York Hilton Midtown on November 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for NAACP Legal Defense Fund)
Sherrilyn Ifill may be the most recognizable name among the potential nominees, although she has never served on the federal bench. Ifill, 59, is a longtime civil rights attorney and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which was founded by Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Ifill earned her JD degree from New York University Law School. She has served in her current role with the LDF since 2013. Ifill was a professor at the University of Maryland Law School for two decades beginning in 1993.
Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright
Associate Justice Wilhelmina M. Wright is a District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. (Credit: Minnesota gov)
Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright is a District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama in 2016, Wright, 58, Wright is the only jurist in Minnesota state history to serve at the district court, appeals court, and state Supreme Court level.
Wright, a native of Norfolk, Va., obtained her JD degree from Harvard Law School. Wright is currently overseeing the civil rights prosecution case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Eunice C. Lee
Eunice C. Lee, the nominee to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit, arrives for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on judicial nominations on June 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. She was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Eunice C. Lee is a Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, appointed by President Biden in 2021. Previously, Lee worked with the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City from 1998 to 2019 and was the director of recruitment at the Office of the Appellate Defender from 2003 to 2019.
Adding to Lee’s credentials, she was an adjunct assistant professor of clinical law at New York University School of Law from 2003 to 2019. Lee obtained her JD degree from Yale University.
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-Pool/Getty Images)
Candace Jackson-Akiwumi is a Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Before President Biden appointed her to the bench in 2021, Jackson Akiwumi staff attorney at the federal defender program in the Northern District of Illinois between 2010 and 2020.
Jackson Akiwumi obtained her JD degree from Yale Law School in 2005. She is the second Black woman after Ann Claire Williams and the first former federal public defender to sit on the Seventh Circuit bench.
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