Senator Lindsey Graham, R.S.C., a member of the Senate Budget Committee, speaks during a hearing on salaries at profitable large corporations on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, February 25, 2021.
Suzanne Walsh | Reuters
WASHINGTON — Republican Senator Lindsey Graham predicted Sunday that if President Joe Biden nominates South Carolina federal judge Michelle Childs to replace incumbent Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court, Childs would likely win more than 10 Republican votes in the Senate.
“He’s someone, I think, who could rally the Senate and probably get over 60 votes,” Graham said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “Anyone else would be problematic,” he added.
A former chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham hails from South Carolina like Childs, and he has spoken highly of her in the past.
“She’s considered an unbiased and very gifted jurist,” Graham said in a January interview, adding that Childs “is one of the most decent people I’ve ever met.”
Judge J. Michelle Childs of the United States District Court, District of South Carolina is seen in an undated photo.
Courtesy of the United States District Court, District of South Carolina | Reuters
On Sunday, Graham again praised the U.S. District Court judge, saying her modest background and non-Ivy League upbringing meant she would bring educational diversity to the High Court, which is replete with Ivy League graduates.
Left unsaid was the fact that if Childs was confirmed, she would also become the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, fulfilling Biden’s campaign promise to nominate a black woman if he ever had the chance to fill a seat. vacant.
The support she has from Democratic Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina also weighs in favor of Childs.
A deeply influential figure in his home state, Clyburn’s 2020 endorsement of Biden, delivered just before the South Carolina Democratic primary, is widely seen as having turned the tide for Biden’s faltering campaign.
Childs is currently one of three potential candidates on Biden’s shortlist for the High Court, alongside Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.
As Biden prepares to interview the top three candidates this week, Graham’s prediction that Childs could win more than 10 Republican votes is significant, as Graham also seemed to imply that if Biden nominates Childs, she would have a relatively smooth confirmation process. . This could be very good news for a White House that faces multiple domestic and global challenges.
Currently, Biden’s jobs approval rating is underwater with votersmany of whom blame the president for the fact that inflation is at its highest level in 40 years and that the Covid pandemic shows no sign of an imminent end.
Abroad, Biden faces a military and foreign policy crisis in Ukraine, where the looming threat of a Russian invasion prompted the United States to withdraw staff from its embassy in Kyiv and warn Americans that the war could break out “any day”.
Against this backdrop, a long and ugly Supreme Court confirmation battle this spring would test the president’s time and his political capital, at a time when both are scarce.
By contrast, if Childs were to be nominated and then confirmed with more than 10 Republican votes, as Graham predicted, it would represent a rare break from the increasingly bitter partisanship that has overtaken Washington in recent years and reflects a nation where political divisions deepen. .
With the Senate split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, Biden technically doesn’t need Republican votes to confirm his nominee because Vice President Kamala Harris would break a tie.
But a bipartisan confirmation vote of the type Graham predicts for Childs, with 10 or more Republicans crossing the aisle, would represent a much-needed political and personal victory for Biden.
As a candidate, Biden has promised to govern as a centrist and as a unifier. In practice, however, this proved to be much more difficult than it appeared during the election campaign.
US President Joe Biden addresses the media as Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris welcome Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and committee ranking Republican Charles Grassley to discuss the upcoming vacancy in the United States Supreme Court from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, United States on February 1, 2022.
Leah Millis | Reuters
A Supreme Court confirmation vote between Democrats and Republicans would deviate from the pattern established by the last two Supreme Court confirmations, those of Justices Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Amy Coney Barrett in 2020.
Both Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett were confirmed by Republican-controlled senates along straight party lines, with no Democratic vote.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle was the bitterest in recent memory, as senators weighed a serious attempted sexual assault allegation that was brought against Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings.
By contrast, Coney Barrett was confirmed at the High Court in October last year, just 30 days after her nomination by then President Donald Trump.
Biden has promised to announce his Supreme Court nominee before the end of February.