Biden Interviews Supreme Court Nominee Finalists as He Seems to Narrow His List to 3: Reports

The president has previously said he intends to nominate a Black woman to fill the vacancy left behind when Justice Stephen Breyer retires

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Leondra R. Kruger, J. Michelle Childs
From left: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Leondra R. Kruger, J. Michelle Childs. Photo: Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images; Jeff Chiu/AP/Shutterstock; Meg Kinnard/AP/Shutterstock

Joe Biden has seemingly narrowed his search for the next Supreme Court nominee to even fewer names.

Outlets including CBS News, NBC News and The New York Times reported this week that the president recently interviewed Judges J. Michelle Childs, Ketanji Brown Jackson and Leondra R. Kruger. (At least one of those meetings, according to the Times, was conducted in person.)

A White House spokesman told PEOPLE he could not comment on any interviews.

President Biden, 79, campaigned on a promise to nominate a Black woman as a Supreme Court justice. With the announcement of to Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement, he now has his chance.

A source earlier told PEOPLE that Childs, Jackson and Kruger were among those on the administration's short list, standing out for their history of bipartisan support, legal and academic accolades, work in public service and their life stories.

Earlier this month, Biden told Lester Holt during an NBC News interview that he was already homing in on top contenders in his search.

"I've taken about four people and done a deep dive on them," Biden said then, adding that the process included "thorough background checks" to "see if there's anything in the background that would make them not qualified."

The women on his shortlist, he added, "are nominees who are incredibly well qualified and documented. They are the honor students that come from the best universities they have experience, some on the bench, some in the practice of law."

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden. Anna Moneymaker/Getty

Jackson, 51, was confirmed by the Senate to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last year, in a 53-to-44 vote (which means she already has the support of at least a handful of Republicans).

The Harvard College and Harvard Law School grad also previously clerked for outgoing Justice Breyer, who has called her "brilliant," and praised her "common sense" and "thoughtfulness," according to SCOTUS Blog.

Kruger, 45, is a California Supreme Court justice who — if appointed — would be the youngest justice on the high court by more than four years.

She graduated with honors from Harvard University and served as a reporter for the Harvard Crimson. She later attended Yale Law School and was the first Black woman to serve as editor in chief of the Yale Law Journal.

Childs, 55, currently serves on the district court in Columbia, South Carolina (a state that helped secure the Democratic nomination for Biden when he won its primary). Childs was reportedly considered for a promotion to the federal appeals court for that circuit by Biden before news broke of a vacancy coming on the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen on January 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court has blocked President Joe Biden’s COVID vaccine or testing mandate for large private businesses, but allowed a vaccine mandate to take effect for medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments.
The U.S. Supreme Court. Alex Wong/Getty

Unlike many others being considered for the nation's highest court, Childs attended public universities on scholarships, spending her undergraduate years at University of South Florida and earning law and business degrees at the University of South Carolina.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and also hails from South Carolina, has expressed his support for Childs, calling her "an awesome person."

Once Biden's choice is made, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings, subjecting the nominee to what is typically intense questioning before the full Senate votes to confirm or reject Biden's selection for the nation's highest court.

Democrats, who hold a slim majority in the Senate, have said they will move swiftly to confirm Biden's pick — with the midterm elections looming in November.

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