Judge Childs, onetime Supreme Court contender, garners support for appellate role

3 minute read

Judge J. Michelle Childs, a nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is sworn in before her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

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  • Senator Graham says Judge Childs 'wears the robe well'
  • Republicans focus questions on 11th Circuit nominee Nancy Abudu

(Reuters) - U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs faced little opposition to her nomination to join a key appeals court on Wednesday, with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham saying he would have backed President Joe Biden picking her for the U.S. Supreme Court instead.

Childs, a district court judge from Graham's home state of South Carolina, appeared before the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee for a much-delayed hearing on her nomination to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

She had been slated to appear before the panel in January, but at the White House's request, the hearing was delayed as Biden considered whether to nominate her to succeed retiring liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

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Biden instead ultimately nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson of the D.C. Circuit, considered by some the most important federal appeals court. Graham, who forcefully opposed Jackson's nomination, during Wednesday's hearing said that with regards to Childs, he was by contrast "all in about her moving up."

"It was up to President Biden as to who to nominate to the Supreme Court," Graham said. "But this position she is being nominated for is consequential."

Graham said he is backing her with fellow South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott even if he expected "her philosophy to be a bit different than mine."

"She wears the robe well," he said.

U.S. Representative James Clyburn, the majority whip and third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives who openly pushed Biden to nominate Childs to the Supreme Court, told the panel to expect "great things" if she is confirmed.

Childs said she was "profoundly humbled to be considered for this remarkable opportunity."

She faced little questioning from Republicans who instead focused on Nancy Abudu, a voting rights advocate with the Southern Poverty Law Center nominated to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Republicans including Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the party's ranking member on the committee, sharply questioned Abudu about the SPLC's inclusion of prominent conservative groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom on its well-known annual list of hate groups.

"They label group after group after group as hate groups, and you were unaware when you went to work there that’s kind of their main bread and butter right now?” Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska asked.

But Abudu, who joined SPLC in 2019 from the American Civil Liberties Union, said she had no role in its profiling of groups and that racial justice and voting rights was the "focus of my work."

Read more:

Biden considers Judge J. Michelle Childs, among others, for Supreme Court

Biden nominates 2 appellate judges, including Supreme Court contender

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at nate.raymond@thomsonreuters.com.