by Steve Peoples
Democrats stung by a series of election year failures to deliver legislative wins for their most loyal voters hope they’ll be buoyed by the prospect that President Joe Biden will name the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
Justice Stephen Breyer’s pending retirement, confirmed by numerous sources on Wednesday, couldn’t have come at a better time for a Democratic Party reeling from the collapse of Biden’s legislative agenda last week, including a push to overhaul election laws that voting rights advocates said was critical to protecting democracy.
As Democrats regroup with an eye on maintaining a tenuous grip on Congress after November’s midterm elections, the prospect of naming Breyer’s replacement offered an opportunity to pause from those bruising battles. Seeing Biden’s campaign pledge to appoint the first Black woman to the Supreme Court fulfilled, Democrats hope they can energize a dejected base, particularly Black voters whose support will be crucial in the fall campaign.
“This is a huge opportunity for us,” said Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, a national organization that encourages women of color to vote. “It turns out that appointing a Black woman (to the Supreme Court) at this moment could help to make up for the policy and political losses that we’ve seen recently.”
“It’s a win,” Allison said.
Among the names being circulated as potential nominees are California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, prominent civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill and U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs, whom Biden has nominated to be an appeals court judge. Childs is a favorite of Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., who made a crucial endorsement of Biden just before South Carolina’s presidential primary in 2020.
The exact timing of Breyer’s retirement remains unclear, but Senate Democrats who control the confirmation process plan to begin the proceedings as soon as possible.