Thoughts on Justice Breyer’s retirement

Bella Lee, Staff Writer

On Jan. 26, the country learned that Justice Stephen Breyer will be retiring from the Supreme Court after over 25 years of service, effective at the end of the current term. That means by the end of this calendar year, the United States will see the nomination of a new justice. Honestly, this is a good thing for our country, as it can lead to more diversity in the Supreme Court. Ever since the establishment of the Supreme Court in 1789, every single justice that has ever served, except for six, has been a white man. With the retirement of Justice Breyer, we could finally see a black woman on the highest court in the land. So far, we’ve only had two black Supreme Court Justices, with Thurgood Marshall and, currently, Clarence Thomas. As President Joe Biden works to make important decisions on his first nomination, there’s a select few individuals that could be contenders.

As Breyer announced his retirement, Biden said, “The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity. And that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It’s long overdue in my view. I made that commitment during the campaign for president, and I will keep that commitment.” Some of his political rivals were not too happy with this statement, with Texas Senator Ted Cruz saying, “You know, black women are what, 6 percent of the U.S. population? He’s saying to 94 percent of Americans, ‘I don’t give a damn about you are ineligible.’” Cruz went on to call Biden’s statement “insulting” and “offensive.” However, there is a slate of black women who are more than qualified to make history among the Supreme Court.

With Breyer being 83 years old, it’s good that we’re getting someone younger on the Supreme Court. The newest and current youngest Supreme Court Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, just turned 50 years old. There are a historic number of black women that are among Biden’s main candidates. Ketanji Brown Jackson, a native Washingtonian, is a 51-year-old circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit who was also a district judge on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia from 2013 to 2021. Another potential nominee, Leondra Kruger, is 45 years old and currently serving on the California Supreme Court.J. Michelle Childs, the third consideration, is 55 years old and is a district judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, having been in that position since 2010. Sherrilyn Ifill is a 59-year-old Baltimore native who is a law professor and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Although these women are among the top candidates, there are others that are potentially in the running. These include Nancy Abudu, the strategic litigation director at the Southern Poverty Law Center; Tiffany Cunningham, the recent nomination of President Biden’s to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, the daughter of two judges and the nomination of President Biden for the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; and Eunice Lee, a federal judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. No matter who President Biden chooses, I can only hope that this historical new Supreme Court Justice will be welcomed with open arms.