House

Clyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) predicted Wednesday that potential Supreme Court nominee J. Michelle Childs would get GOP support in the Senate if President Biden taps her to fill Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the Supreme Court.

News broke on Wednesday that Breyer, who has served on the bench for more than 27 years, will retire at the end of the current term, paving the way for Biden to nominate a Supreme Court justice.

Clyburn told CNN on Wednesday that “several Republicans” would support Childs if she gets the nod from Biden, specifically naming South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott.

“I want us to make sure that it is a Black woman, I want to make sure that it’s a woman that will get universal support. When I say universal I mean bipartisan support,” Clyburn said.

“And I know that Michelle Childs will have support of several Republicans, including the two Republican senators from South Carolina,” he added.

The majority whip sounded a similar note during an interview with ABC News Wednesday night when asked how concerned he is by the possibility of Vice President Harris having to break a tie for Biden’s Supreme Court nominee. The senate is currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.

“I don’t think that will happen,” Clyburn said, pointing to GOP support for Childs.

“I’ve talked to the Republican senators from South Carolina, both Tim Scott, Lindsey Graham, they are very high on Michelle Childs. And so I think that both of them would vote for her if her name were to be put in nomination,” he said.

Biden, during his campaign in February 2020, pledged to nominate a Black woman to the high court, and many were quick to call on the president to follow through on that campaign pledge Wednesday. 

Childs is among names being floated as a potential replacement. A federal district judge in South Carolina, she was nominated by Biden to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals one month ago. Her confirmation to that post is still pending.

Clyburn told CNN on Wednesday that Childs is “an incredibly smart woman that I believe would do well.”

“People have been talking to me everywhere I go, people tell me what an outstanding jurist Michelle Childs is, and that she ought to be fitted for a promotion,” he added.

If Biden nominates Childs, however, he will be moving away from his first-year history of boosting judicial nominees with backgrounds as public defenders and civil rights lawyers. 

Childs’s early experience as a white-collar lawyer focusing on representing employers in workplace lawsuits may irk progressives, who have thus far praised the president’s judicial confirmations.

Ketanji Brown Jackson, another Black woman, is widely seen as the front-runner to be nominated as Breyer’s replacement.

The Senate confirmed her on a 53-44 vote last June vote to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) joining Democrats in support.

Jackson previously served as a federal district judge in D.C. and was considered for the Supreme Court in 2016 when then-President Obama was searching for a nominee following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Tags Barack Obama Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Stephen Breyer Susan Collins Tim Scott

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