U.S. President Joe Biden has announced that he will be nominating the first Black woman to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer. The latter plans to retire later this year.
Among the list of possible replacements is Deputy assistant U.S. attorney general Leondra Kruger, the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant.
“It’s long overdue, in my opinion,” said President Biden.
“Our process is going to be rigorous. I will select a nominee worthy of Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence and decency. While I’ve been studying candidates’ backgrounds and writings, I’ve made no decision except one: the person I will 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,” he added.
The 45-year-old Kruger is a native of California. Her mother immigrated to the United States from Jamaica, and her late father was an American Jew whose parents had immigrated from Europe.
Kruger graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University. She earned her law degree from Yale Law School, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. She was the first Black woman elected to the position.
The Jamaican American worked at various law firms throughout her career. From 2007 to 2013, Kruger was an assistant to the United States Solicitor General and the acting principal deputy solicitor general. She was the first Black woman to hold the role.
In 2014, Kruger was appointed as Associate Justice to the California Supreme Court. She became the court’s second African-American woman justice, following Janice Rogers Brown. At 38, she was the youngest appointee to the court in recent years and the third youngest appointee ever.
If she replaces Justice Stephen Breyer, she will also continue the tradition of the court’s “Jewish seat.” While Justice Elena Kagan is also Jewish, Breyer sits in a seat historically assigned to a Jew for a large part of the past 100 years. She would also become the third Black Justice and the sixth woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. She would also be the first person of Jamaican descent to serve on the Supreme Court.
Other nominees include U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs. According to the Associated Press, the nomination can be confirmed before Breyer officially retires.
Kruger is married to Brian Hauck, who is also a lawyer. The couple has two young children. She was the first member of the California Supreme Court to give birth while serving on the bench.