Biden Gets The Ball Rolling For His Supreme Court Nominee

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice president Kamala Harris meet with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (R) (D-IL) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (L) (R-IA) in the Ov... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice president Kamala Harris meet with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (R) (D-IL) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (L) (R-IA) in the Oval Office on February 01, 2022 in Washington, DC. Biden is expected to name a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer before the end of the month. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS

Your briefing on developments in the Supreme Court confirmation battle.

President Joe Biden has begun the niceties associated with selecting his Supreme Court nominee, meeting with key senators to hear their priorities and ask for any input. 

“He’s in the process of choosing someone, wants to work with both sides and hopes that we can finish it 40 days after the nomination is sent up,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters on his way out of the White House meeting. 

He indicated that Biden still, at least for now, intends to name the nominee by the end of February.

“I had a chance to tell him that I want somebody that’s going to interpret law not make law, that checks and balances the government, in a fair and deliberative process,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the committee’s ranking member, added. 

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Biden also reportedly met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) about the coming nomination. 

Sherpa Doug Jones 

  • Former Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) has been selected to “sherpa” Biden’s nominee through the committee process, a task entailing introducing her to members and preparing her for Senate hearings, according to multiple outlets. 
  • Jones’ name last came up in connection to the administration when he was considered for the role of attorney general. 
  • Sherpas usually have extensive knowledge of the Senate’s inner workings; Jones only served three years in the chamber. He has an impressive personal job history, serving as a U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and successfully prosecuting two members of the Ku Klux Klan for the Birmingham church bombing of 1963.
  • Recent sherpas include former Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) for Justice Neil Gorsuch and former Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the most recent addition to the bench, had no sherpa due to the intensely compressed timeline of her confirmation and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans Reacting Poorly 

  • Republicans have not been reacting particularly well to news that Biden will choose a Black woman as his nominee. 
  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) furrowed his brow Tuesday over why Biden didn’t rubber stamp every other Black judicial nominee if he’s so eager to confirm one now. Case in point, for Hawley: Clarence Thomas. 
  • Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) Tuesday stood by his claim that Biden’s nominee would be a “beneficiary” of a “quota” similar to affirmative action. When asked by reporters if he regretted the comment he said he’d “just let the interview stand.” 
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) aired his skepticism about the nominee (who still has not been named). “We now have a year of judicial nominees from Joe Biden — we’ve seen a pattern where over and over again, Biden is nominating radical activists,” he said Tuesday.
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