President Biden on Thursday said his search for a nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer is focused on four Black women.
He started the search with at least a dozen Black women on his list.
“What I’ve done is I’ve taken about four people and done a deep dive on them, meaning thorough background checks to see if there’s anything in their background that would make them not qualified,” Mr. Biden said in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt.
The president described his shortlist of nominees as “well qualified.”
“They were honor students, they come from the best universities, they have experience, some on the bench, some in the practice of law,” Mr. Biden continued.
When pressed about whether his pick could win approval in the evenly-divided Senate, Mr. Biden expressed confidence that his nominee would win bipartisan support. The Democrats are currently short a vote while Sen. Bay Ray Lujan, New Mexico Democrat, is out recovering from a stroke.
“I’m not looking to make an ideological choice here,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m looking for someone to replace Justice Breyer with the same kind of capacity Judge Breyer had, with an open mind who understands the Constitution and interprets it in a way that is consistent with the mainstream interpretation of the Constitution.”
The president did not say how far along he was in the selection process. No interviews with nominees have been publicly reported.
Mr. Biden has vowed to keep his campaign promise to nominate a Black woman on the Supreme Court. Earlier this month, the president said he would announce his pick by the end of February.
His pledge to name a Black woman drew some Republican criticism that he was further politicizing the high court and injecting identity politics into the confirmation process.
Top candidates to replace Justice Breyer include federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was confirmed in June to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.
Other contenders for the lifetime appointment are said to include U.S. District Judges Wilhelmina Wright (Minnesota), Michelle Childs (South Carolina) and Leslie Abrams Gardner (Georgia), and Sherrilyn Ifill, director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.