By Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley and Steve Holland*
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden on Thursday said he plans by the end of February to nominate a Black woman to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a historic first that he called “long overdue.”
Biden appeared with Breyer, whom he has known since the 1970s, at the White House after the 83-year-old justice formally announced his retirement in a letter to the president. Breyer wrote that he plans to depart at the conclusion of the court’s current term, typically at the end of June, assuming his successor has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Biden, who won the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination in large part because of strong support from Black voters, noted that he committed during that campaign to name a Black woman to a lifetime post on the high court and would keep his promise.
“Our process is going to be rigorous. I will select a nominee worthy of Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence and decency,” Biden said, calling the selection of a Supreme Court justice one of a president’s most serious constitutional responsibilities.
“While I’ve been studying candidates’ backgrounds and writings, I’ve made no decision except one: the person I nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity – and that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It’s long overdue, in my view,” Biden said.