An overwhelming majority of Americans believe President Biden should consider all possible candidates to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, while fewer than one in four back his pledge to nominate a black woman, a new poll shows.
Biden on Thursday reiterated that he would make good on a campaign promise to nominate a black woman at the White House’s official announcement of Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement.
But, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll out Sunday, only 23 percent of Americans want the president to follow through with that commitment, while 76 percent think he should “consider all possible nominees.”
Broken down by political party, 95 percent of Republicans opt for “consider all” compared to 54 percent of Democrats.
A political divide also exists over whether the Supreme Court decides cases on the basis of law or through the justices’ partisan views.
Among Republicans, 46 percent say by law and 33 percent pick partisan, while 52 percent of Democrats say decisions are partisan and 32 percent say they are based in law.
Biden, at the ceremony in the Roosevelt Room, said nominating a black woman to the Supreme Court is “long overdue.” He said he would choose a nominee by the end of February following a “rigorous” process.
The nominee would be “worthy of Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence and decency,” he said.
“While I’ve been studying candidates’ backgrounds and writings, I’ve made no decision except one: the person I will nominate will be someone of extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity, and that person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court,” Biden said.
“It’s long overdue in my view. I made that commitment during the campaign for president and I will keep that commitment.”
The nominee wouldn’t change the political balance of the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority.
Breyer, 83, who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton, was part of the court’s liberal wing with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
But Biden’s pick is fraught with peril in the 50-50 divided Senate.
He can’t afford any defections from members of the Democratic caucus in confirming a nominee if all 50 Republicans vote against a nominee.
The 50-50 deadlock would require Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the deciding vote.
The main contenders to replace Breyer include 51-year-old DC appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a former Breyer clerk who was confirmed by the Senate 53-47 last year with three Republican votes.
Another frontrunner is Georgia federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, 47, the sister of two-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), whose endorsement in the 2020 Democratic primary is credited with turning the tide for Biden, is pushing for South Carolina federal judge J. Michelle Childs, 55.
California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, 45, whose mother was a Jamaican immigrant, is also believed to be in contention.