An interesting turn, and one that may signal a surprise is on the way.
Last night gossip circulated that Biden could announce his pick as soon as tomorrow. Ketanji Brown Jackson was a strong frontrunner at the beginning of the search process, having been touted as a potential Supreme Court nominee for years, but her position appears to have eroded. Not entirely, as WaPo claimed that she’s still the presumptive frontrunner in its story about the looming selection yesterday. But supporters of Michelle Childs have made a strong case for her over the past month led by James Clyburn and, of all people, Lindsey Graham. Graham sang Childs’s praises in a national TV interview in January and all but promised Biden he’d vote yes if the president selected her.
Now news is breaking that various left-wing activists are scrambling to warn Biden to stick with Jackson, not Childs.
Has word gotten out that Jackson is no longer the frontrunner, that in fact Biden is poised to succumb to Clyburn’s and Graham’s lobbying and nominate Childs after all?
If the pick is expected tomorrow then there’s no time for progressives to waste in mounting an eleventh-hour lobbying effort against her. The first blow came this morning via an op-ed written by well-known civil-rights attorney Benjamin Crump. Title: “Why the Supreme Court needs Ketanji Brown Jackson.”
My standards for this nominee go beyond integrity, brilliance and fairness. I carry the additional purchase that this justice must represent African Americans in a way that has cultural competency, forcefulness and instills deep pride. Justice Sotomayor clearly inspires and provides vision to America’s Hispanic community. Justices O’Connor and Ginsburg are heroes for women across the ideological spectrum. We African Americans eagerly await and demand that model: a talented African American woman who not only acts justly and upholds our Constitution but is rooted in an experience that so many of us share…
Jackson has always been an achiever, from national debate championships in high school to elite campuses to prestigious jobs, serving as a public defender and clerking for the Supreme Court itself for Justice Breyer, whom I’m hoping she replaces. But through it all, she’s been an advocate for and proud of the African American community. She was active in the Black Students Association in college, in the Black Law Students organization in law school, and she has represented Black people throughout her career, from mentoring, hiring Black clerks as a judge and forcefully speaking out in favor of saner criminal sentencing policies in her role on the United States Sentencing Commission.
Tonight NBC is reporting that a dozen different progressive activist groups have sent a letter to Biden encouraging him to nominate “someone with civil rights or public defense experience to the Supreme Court.” That means Jackson, who spent three years as a federal public defender. Childs doesn’t have that credential.
Demand Justice has already produced ads to support Jackson in case she’s chosen, a source familiar with the matter said.
The left-leaning groups that signed the letter — which also include MoveOn, Indivisible, Justice Democrats and Demos — noted the Biden White House’s push to put more public defenders and civil rights lawyers on the courts, and by implication fewer corporate lawyers and prosecutors.
“Since then, you have nominated a record-breaking number of former public defenders and a phenomenal group of civil rights lawyers to the bench,” they write to Biden. “These lawyers bring a much-needed different perspective to a court system that too often favors the wealthy and corporations.”
What does the left have against Childs? She’s the one potential nominee who didn’t go to an Ivy League school, after all. Wouldn’t that qualify as a “much-needed different perspective”?
Maybe. But they have other issues with her, starting with the fact that Clyburn is a centrist Democrat and an occasional thorn in progressives’ side. It was his endorsement before the South Carolina primary that propelled Biden to a landslide victory over Bernie Sanders, stopping the socialist’s presidential momentum cold. Lefties may still resent Clyburn for it. But they have problems with Childs’s record too, such as her work for a firm that has since built a reputation for defending management in labor disputes. Lately liberal publications have complained about a case in which Childs sentenced a defendant to 12 years for selling eight ounces of marijuana. Others have targeted the many times she denied compassionate release to prisoners who applied for it.
All of this makes her more appealing to Republicans and probably better positioned than Jackson to earn GOP votes. But the last thing Biden wants to have happen after he’s just nominated the first black woman to the Court is for the left growing irritated with him about his choice.
There’s no way to know what’s happening behind the scenes but it’s obvious that there’s a hard push for Jackson happening online today among some prominent Dems:
Why the Supreme Court needs Ketanji Brown Jackson https://t.co/BFJJWeX5z9
— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) February 23, 2022
I have sent a letter to President Biden further advocating for Miami’s very own, Ketanji Brown Jackson, as the potential nominee to #SCOTUS & I hope that @POTUS will consider the overwhelming bipartisan support Ketanji has already received.
— Rep. Frederica Wilson (@RepWilson) February 23, 2022
I feel tremendous pride and excitement for Judge Ketanji Jackson, a model jurist with exceptional commitment to justice and fairness for every American. I wish her the best of luck as we await President Biden’s announcement of our next Supreme Court Justice.
— Jamie Raskin (@jamie_raskin) February 23, 2022
Raskin’s tweet is interesting because it sounds less like lobbying than a hint that he knows Jackson’s the pick and is getting out in front of the crowd in congratulating her. That’s another possible scenario here: Maybe Childs has actually faded from contention, lefty activists have been made aware of that, and now everyone’s scrambling to lead the “Yay, Ketanji” parade in the expectation that it could start at any moment.
Stay tuned. Until tomorrow, I’ll leave you with this. The Supreme Court’s lunch hour should be an interesting one in years ahead.