J Michelle Childs, a South Carolina judge among those vying for Joe Biden’s nomination to the Supreme Court, has received strong backing from an unlikely source: Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator and close ally of Donald Trump.
“I can’t think of a better person for President Biden to consider for the Supreme Court than Michelle Childs,” Graham said on Sunday, a member of the Senate judiciary committee that will consider Biden’s choice.
“She has a lot of support in our state.” She is regarded as a fair-minded and exceptionally gifted jurist. She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
Biden must name a replacement for 83-year-old liberal Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement last week. The nomination will not alter the court’s balance, as conservatives outnumber liberals 6-3, but Biden has promised to install the first Black female justice.
On Friday, Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker slammed Biden for nominating a justice based on her race at a time when “the Supreme Court is… hearing cases about this sort of affirmative racial discrimination while adding someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota.”
Wicker drew criticism, particularly because presidents have previously chosen based on criteria other than experience. Ronald Reagan promised that a woman would be appointed to the Supreme Court for the first time. Donald Trump promised to appoint a woman to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Both followed through on their promises.
Also on Sunday, Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican who Democrats hope will support Biden’s nomination, said this week: “The president’s handling of this nomination has been clumsy at best.” It contributes to the perception that the court, like Congress, is a political institution when it is not.”
Most observers would argue that the court is, without a doubt, a political institution, and that only politicians – and justices – pretend otherwise.
Collins also attempted to split hairs, claiming that Reagan stated his desire to appoint a woman “as one of his supreme court justices.” During his 1980 presidential campaign against Jimmy Carter, Reagan stated that “one of the first supreme court vacancies in my administration will be filled by the most qualified woman I can possibly find.”
President Reagan stated during his campaign that he wanted to appoint the first female to the Supreme Court. ‘Whether you like it or not, I’m going to pick an African American woman to serve on the Supreme Court,’ said Joe Biden. I believe there are numerous qualified African American women, both conservative and liberal, who could serve on the court. As a result, I do not consider Michelle Childs to be an affirmative action act. Graham also backed Childs as a product of South Carolina’s public university, “someone who isn’t at Harvard or Yale.”
Graham’s enthusiasm may have surprised both Wicker, who predicted Biden’s selection would not receive a single Republican vote, and observers of Graham’s long-term devotion to Trump. Such loyalty was evident when Graham defended Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s second court nominee, during a bruising confirmation battle that has prompted Republicans such as Wicker to threaten retaliation.
Any Biden nominee, according to Graham, “will not be treated like Judge Kavanaugh.” But I think I’ve made it clear that I’m a big fan of Judge Childs.” His admiration may have surprised supporters of Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Washington DC judge who many believe has a good chance of winning.
Childs is a known supporter of South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, whose endorsement both secured Biden’s promise to install a Black woman and propelled him to the Democratic nomination. The Democratic whip in the House said he spoke with Biden about Childs “several months ago.”
Clyburn stated that the nomination of any Black woman would send a message to “every little child growing up in moderate circumstances, needing the entire community to help raise [her], getting scholarships to go up to school because she couldn’t afford to go otherwise, going to public schools because you didn’t get an offer from one of the big private schools.”
That message, he said, would be: “You’ve got just as much of a chance to benefit from the greatness of this country as everybody else … That’s the kind of conversation I had with [Joe] Biden way back when he was running for president.”