House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said he has not spoken to President Biden or Clyburn’s top pick for the Supreme Court to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, South Carolina Judge J. Michelle Childs, since the news broke that Breyer would be retiring.
“No, I have not talked to President Biden or with Michelle Childs in the last 24 or 48 hours or even the last several days. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I talked with Michelle. I did talk with the President a couple of weeks ago,” Clyburn said on Washington Post Live.
Although Clyburn said the women on the shortlist to replace Breyer are “all great people,” he made a clear pitch for why Childs should be the judge to serve as the next justice on the Supreme Court.
The White House said yesterday that Biden stands by his commitment to nominate a Black woman to the high court, which would be a historic first.
“As it relates to who, I don’t have anything against the seven or eight names that I have seen floated as possibilities; they’re all great people. The fact of the matter is, I have been discussing Michelle Childs with the President and his people now for, I guess, at least 13 months,” Clyburn said.
Clyburn said that “she has what I call the kind of background and experiences that we ought to have, that judges and juries ought to have.”
“It is time for us to diversify the court — not just as it relates to the gender but as it relates to color as well and as it relates to backgrounds and experiences. And it would help to have somebody from the South,” Clyburn added. “She would bring a unique perspective to the Supreme Court.”
Clyburn argued that Childs could “absolutely” win Republican support, a clear metric that Biden said he’d be looking for in a nominee. Clyburn said that South Carolina Republican Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham know Childs “very well” and “have spoken highly” of her.
“If you look at the experiences, there is nobody sitting on the Supreme Court today that can tout the background, the experiences — life and professional — that Michelle Childs would bring to the court. It’s just that simple. And I think Republicans appreciate that as much as Democrats. And I’ve heard from Republicans since yesterday. They are very high on her, and not just here in South Carolina. I’ve heard as far away from Illinois,” Clyburn said.
Clyburn pushed back on the notion that Childs doesn’t have enough experience because she has yet to serve on the DC District Court, though she was just nominated to that circuit. When asked if he thought that DC Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson would be a better fit to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, Clyburn said that while he does not have anything against Jackson, he argued that “more experience doesn’t mean the best experience.”
Although Clyburn made his case for Childs, he acknowledged that this is ultimately Biden’s decision.
“I’m letting my feelings be known, and the White House can feel what they need to. And I’ll just react accordingly,” he said.
Speaking broadly, Clyburn talked about the importance of Biden nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court, especially considering his commitment to do so at the Charleston presidential debate two years ago.
“How many times have you heard it said that Black women are the backbone of the Democratic party? Well, you just can’t say it; you got to show it,” Clyburn said.