White House confirms J. Michelle Childs is under consideration for Supreme Court

Josh Lederman and Tim Stelloh
Judge J. Michelle Childs of the United States District Court, District of South Carolina is seen in an undated photo.
Courtesy U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina | Reuters

President Joe Biden is considering Judge J. Michelle Childs as a potential candidate to succeed Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires later this year, a White House spokesman confirmed Friday night.

Childs, a judge on the U.S. district court in South Carolina, is the first person the Biden administration has publicly identified as a possible nominee in a selection process that's expected to last through February. Biden recently nominated Childs for a seat on the D.C. Circuit.

Biden to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court

"Judge Childs is among multiple individuals under consideration for the Supreme Court, and we are not going to move her nomination on the Court of Appeals while the President is considering her for this vacancy," White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

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The Washington Post first reported the White House's confirmation that Biden was considering Childs.

Childs is the preferred pick of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., a longtime Biden ally who played a key role in encouraging the president to vow on the campaign trail that he would nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court if given the opportunity.

Childs had been scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week for a confirmation hearing on her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, but the White House is holding off on having her testify while she's under consideration for the Supreme Court.

In addition to Childs, high-profile contenders for the Supreme Court include federal appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger. A source familiar with the White House's process told NBC News this week that two others are under consideration: New York University law professor Melissa Murray and Wilhelmina Wright, a judge on the U.S. district court in Minnesota.

In his statement Friday, Bates said that any "reporting indicating that the President is only seriously considering three potential nominees is incorrect."

Breyer, 83, is the oldest member of the court and the second-longest serving after Justice Clarence Thomas. After 27 years on the bench — and as one of three remaining liberal justices — progressive activists have been pressing him to step down while Democrats control Congress.