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Biden promises to nominate a black woman to the US Supreme Court for first time

The US President said a nomination like this is “long overdue”.

US President Joe Biden and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
US President Joe Biden and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
Image: PA

US PRESIDENT JOE Biden has strongly affirmed that he will nominate the first black woman to the US Supreme Court, declaring such historic representation is “long overdue”.

He promised to announce his choice by the end of February.

In a White House ceremony marking a moment of national transition, Biden praised retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, who will have spent nearly 28 years on the high court by the time he leaves at the end of the term, as “a model public servant at a time of great division in this country”.

Biden promised a nominee worthy of Breyer’s legacy and said he had already been studying the backgrounds and writings of potential candidates.

“I’ve made no decision except one: The person I will nominate will be somebody of extraordinary qualifications, character and integrity,” he said.

“And that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It is long overdue.”

Biden’s choice will be historic on its face: No black woman has ever served on the high court. But the decision is also coming at a critical time of national reckoning over race and gender inequality.

However, the court’s 6-3 conservative majority is destined to remain intact.

Biden is using his choice to fulfil one of his early campaign promises, one that helped resurrect his moribund primary campaign and propel him to the White House in 2020.

And it gives him the chance to show black voters, who are increasingly frustrated with a president they helped to elect, that he is serious about their concerns, particularly with his voting rights legislation stalled in the Senate.

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Biden spent his first year in office working to nominate a diverse group of judges to the federal bench, not just in race but also in professional expertise, and he has been reviewing possible high court candidates along the way.

He has installed five black women on federal appeals courts — where many high court justices come from — with three more nominations pending before the Senate. He has had more judges confirmed in a year than any other president since Ronald Reagan.

He has already met personally with at least one top nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson (51). She is a former Breyer clerk who worked at the US Sentencing Commission and has been a federal trial court judge since 2013 in the District of Columbia.

The two met when Biden interviewed her for her current post as an appeals court judge in the DC circuit, where she has served since last June.

Early discussions about a successor are focusing on Jackson, US District Judge J Michelle Childs and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.

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