Who Will Replace Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer?

Headline Roundup January 27th, 2022

With longtime Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer reportedly set to retire this year, who will President Joe Biden choose to replace him — and how?

Reports across the spectrum have highlighted two names: federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger. Jackson, 51, was recently confirmed to D.C.'s federal appeals court, and Kruger, 45, joined California’s highest court in 2015. Both women have also clerked on the Supreme Court. Biden promised in his presidential campaign to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court if given the chance. Previous election-year Supreme Court confirmations, such as those for Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, were highly partisan. 

Voices across the spectrum say Jackson and Kruger are the clear frontrunners. Many left-rated voices highlighted the lack of black women serving as federal justices, and celebrated how Biden's nominee could change that. Some right-rated voices questioned Biden's race- and gender-based criteria, and highlighted examples of when the Supreme Court ruled that preferring people for no reason other than race constitutes illegal discrimination. Voices on all sides reflected on Breyer's career as pragmatic and principled, while some argued that his retirement in a key election year proves that the court has become a partisan political instrument. One analysis from Politico (Lean Left bias) argued that because Breyer's retirement was long expected and because the new justice won't shift the court’s ideological balance, the confirmation process may be less partisan than expected.

From the Center
319
ANALYSIS

With today’s reporting that Justice Stephen Breyer intends to retire, we now kick off our analysis of potential nominees to replace him. President Joe Biden previously promised to nominate a Black woman, and we assume he will keep that commitment. Two potential nominees therefore stand apart from all others: Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Both are well known to the White House team that will lead the nomination process. Kruger is a...

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From the Left
319
OPINION

With Justice Stephen Breyer’s reported retirement opening a seat on the Supreme Court, President Joe Biden has a chance to fulfill a campaign promise to name a Black woman to the Court for the first time.

Only two African Americans, Justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, have served on the nation’s highest court, and only one woman of color has been a justice — Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is Latina. And Black women aren’t just unrepresented on the Supreme Court, they are also massively underrepresented on the federal bench. And they were even more so...

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From the Right
319
OPINION

The announcement of Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement has whistled the start of that Washington blood sport known as a Supreme Court confirmation. While the filibuster-free process guarantees President Joe Biden that he has the votes to pick anyone acceptable to all Senate Democrats, this fight is different from any in history in one respect. As a candidate, Mr. Biden pledged to select the next justice first and foremost on race and sex.

“I’m looking forward to making sure there’s a black woman on the Supreme Court, to make sure we, in fact,...

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