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Biden vows to nominate Black woman to succeed Breyer on Supreme Court

President Biden thanked Justice Stephen G. Breyer for his service and announced his intent to nominate the nation’s first Black woman to the Supreme Court. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post, Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post/The Washington Post)
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President Biden vowed Thursday to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court by the end of February, saying “it’s long overdue.” His pledge came during a White House event with Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who told Biden in a letter released Thursday that he plans to retire at the end of the court’s current term, assuming his replacement is nominated and confirmed.

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“I’m here today to express the nation’s gratitude to Justice Stephen Breyer for his remarkable career of public service and his clear-eyed commitment to making our country’s laws work for its people,” Biden said of Breyer, 83, who was nominated to the court in 1994 by President Bill Clinton.

Biden promised during the 2020 campaign to select a Black woman for any vacancy and maintained Thursday that he would fulfill that pledge. I will select a nominee worthy of Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence and decency,” Biden said.

Here’s what to know

  • Breyer’s retirement sets up a new election-year challenge as the deadlocked 50-50 Senate faces a Supreme Court confirmation fight focused on some of the most contentious issues in the nation’s cultural divide.
  • Breyer’s retirement abruptly puts a spotlight on a small circle of Black female jurists who are positioned to be chosen as Biden’s first pick to the Supreme Court.
  • In nearly three decades on the Supreme Court, Breyer routinely found himself on the losing side of contentious issues but managed to cultivate collegiality as a centrist problem-solver.
  • How a Supreme Court nominee becomes a justice: A potential justice nominated by the president must win confirmation in a divided Senate.