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News broke Wednesday that Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer is planning to retire. Breyer, who has served on the nation’s highest court since 1994, has been a staunch progressive during his time on the bench.
Now, as the nation’s oldest justice prepares to step down, all eyes turn to President Biden. In March of 2020, while campaigning for the presidency, Biden promised to nominated a Black woman to the court.
“I commit that if I am elected president and have the opportunity to appoint someone to the Court, I will appoint the first Black woman to the Court,” Biden said in a debate with Bernie Sanders.
“It’s required that they have representation now. It’s long overdue,” Biden continued.
A Black woman has never held a seat on the bench in the Supreme Court’s more than 232 year existence. If Biden were to fulfill this campaign promise, it would be an unprecedented milestone in the nation’s history.
Several names are already being floated as possible contenders for the role. Among them are DC Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, South Carolina US District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs, former President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill and others.
Fierce battle over Supreme Court seat likely ahead of midterm elections
Liberal activists had been urging Breyer, 83, to step down prior to the midterm elections in case Democrats lose control of the United States Senate.
Breyer’s retirement will be official in early October; at the end of the current Supreme Court term and shortly before the November midterms.
Democrats hold the slimmest possible majority in the US Senate. It will require 51 votes to confirm any Supreme Court nominee President Biden puts forth. Regardless, should Biden carry through on his promise to nominate a Black woman to the court, it will be an historic moment.