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President Biden has decided on his nominee for the Supreme Court


President Biden has made his pick to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first Black woman nominated to the high court. He plans to officially introduce her at the White House a little later this afternoon. NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid is with us now. Hi, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hi there, Rachel.

MARTIN: Tell us more about this nomination. Who is Ketanji Brown Jackson?

KHALID: Well, first off, as you said, Rachel, she is the first Black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court. This follows up on a pledge that Joe Biden made very publicly, actually, two years ago to the date during his presidential campaign there in South Carolina. And in the statement announcing her decision, the White House points out she's been confirmed to the Senate with votes from Republicans and Democrats three times in the past. She is an experienced judge, and in some ways, she has the typical pedigree. She went to Harvard Law School, was an editor on the Law Review there, and by many accounts, she was consistently viewed as the front-runner for this job. She served as a federal trial court judge, and last summer, she was confirmed for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. But, Rachel, really, one thing that does stand out about her background is that she served as a public defender, and if confirmed, she would be the first former federal public defender to serve on the Supreme Court.

MARTIN: And she clerked for Stephen Breyer - right? - the very justice she's nominated to replace. He is leaving the court at the end of the term in late June. What does her confirmation process look like?

KHALID: Well, this afternoon, the president is going to officially introduce her as his pick, and according to the White House, she'll also give some remarks. Then this goes to Congress, and the Senate will vote to confirm her as the nominee. This requires a simple majority. So President Biden's pick does not need any Republican support, and frankly, given current political partisanship, I don't think that it's to be expected that she'll get a lot of Republican support. That's already, I would say, some of the reaction we've seen this morning. It's largely been partisan. But ultimately, I will say, I don't expect this to be a particularly long process. Democrats have the numbers in the Senate. They will want this to go quickly. And they realize that they may not have those numbers after the November midterms.

MARTIN: Asma, I wonder how the historic nature of Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination affected the - her selection.

KHALID: Well, I will say, Rachel, I think it has been the central storyline. My inbox this morning has been flooded with emails from advocacy organizations praising the historic nature of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the Supreme Court pick, the Supreme Court nominee. Back in January, a number of Black women who've been engaged in Democratic politics wrote this letter of support. They said that they felt like this has been long overdue. It's never happened in the court's 200-plus-year history, and they're excited. They wrote that nominating a Black woman with the necessary compassion, sense of justice and brilliant legal mind will bolster the integrity of the Supreme Court.

But, you know, I will say, as soon as this vacancy opened, some Republicans started complaining that they saw this as reverse racism. They were livid. They accused Joe Biden of choosing a, quote, "affirmative action" pick. And really, the language around race has gotten really nasty, and I'm not sure it's going to get better through this confirmation process.

MARTIN: NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid. Thank you again, reporting on news that President Biden will nominate Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.

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