Universities

A product of public universities, Michelle Childs would be an unconventional Supreme Court pick

If Justice Childs were to become the candidate to replace Justice Breyer, who announced last month that he planned to retire, she would most likely have at least bipartisan support. After President Barack Obama nominated her to her current position on the U.S. District Court in South Carolina in 2009, the Senate confirmed her by voice vote.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who backed Justice Childs in the nomination and has congratulated her since her name emerged as a Supreme Court nominee, said he told the White House that ‘she could get the support of at least 10 Republicans in an evenly divided Senate. “I’m confident that if Michelle Childs was chosen and did well in the hearings, which I think she would, those 60 plus votes would be in play,” Mr Graham said.

His most publicized decisions from the federal bench show his leanings towards sensitive matters of national resonance and consequence.

In 2014, she ruled in favor of two women who sued the state to have their marriage, celebrated in Washington, DC, recognized in South Carolina. In Bradacs v. Haley, Justice Childs found that the couple had “expressed a constitutionally protected fundamental liberty interest in the right to marry” and that the state’s refusal to recognize the marriage was unconstitutional. The decision, while narrow, was one of a pair that effectively gutted the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

In 2020, Judge Childs struck down a South Carolina rule that would have required a witness to sign mail-in ballots, which could make it harder to vote, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. In granting a preliminary injunction, which was later largely overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Childs dismissed an argument by state officials that the witnesses could help with potential voter fraud investigations. The argument, she wrote, “is undermined by a complete dearth of absence fraud.”

In December, Mr. Biden announced he would appoint Justice Childs to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a frequent gathering place for prospective Supreme Court justices. Her confirmation hearing was postponed after the White House confirmed Justice Childs was under consideration for the Supreme Court.