But Graham distanced himself from Wicker’s remarks on Sunday, saying, “Affirmative action is picking somebody not as well qualified for past wrongs. Michelle Childs is incredibly qualified. There is no affirmative action component if you pick her.”
Graham also defended Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman, saying it was no different than then-President Ronald Reagan’s promise to nominate the nation’s first female justice in 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor.
“President Reagan said, running for office, that he wanted to put the first female on the court,” Graham said. “Whether you like it or not, Joe Biden said, ‘I’m going to pick an African American woman to serve on the Supreme Court.’ I believe there are plenty of qualified African American women, conservative and liberal, that could go onto the court.”
“In the history of our country,” Graham continued, “we’ve only had five women serve and two African American men. So let’s make the court more like America. But qualifications have to be the biggest consideration, and as to Michelle Childs, I think she’s qualified by every measure.”
Graham stopped short of committing to voting in favor of Childs’ potential nomination, however, but said, “I think I made it pretty clear that I’m a big admirer of Judge Childs.”
In promoting Childs, Graham said the judge “has wide support” in South Carolina and “is considered to be a fair-minded, highly-gifted jurist.” Graham also described Childs as “one of the most decent people I’ve ever met,” and he argued that “it would be good for the court to have somebody who is not [an alumnus of] Harvard or Yale.”
“She’s a graduate of the University of South California. A public education background. She’s been a workers’ [compensation] judge,” Graham said of Childs’ resume. “She’s highly qualified, she’s of good character, and we’ll see how she does if she’s nominated. But I cannot say anything bad about Michelle Childs. She is an awesome person.”
Childs, a nominee of former President Barack Obama, has served as a U.S. District Judge in South Carolina since 2010. She previously served as a state court trial judge, a commissioner on the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission and a deputy director at the state Department of Labor.
Last month, Biden nominated Childs for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but the Senate Judiciary Committee has not yet taken up her nomination.
Childs is one of several Black women reportedly under consideration by the White House to take over Breyer’s seat — including U.S. Appeals Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger and U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner.
But among those potential picks, Childs is the only person the White House has publicly acknowledged is under consideration to replace Breyer on the Supreme Court. Therefore, the White House is not actively working to advance Childs’ nomination to the D.C. Circuit while she remains a contender for the Supreme Court vacancy.
Apart from Graham, Childs also is the preferred nominee of House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking African American in Congress and a close Biden ally. On Sunday, Clyburn spoke to the importance of confirming a Black woman to the nation’s highest court.
“It says to every little child out there — growing up under moderate circumstances, needing the entire community to help raise it, getting scholarships to go off to school because they couldn’t afford to go otherwise, going to public schools because you didn’t get an offer from one of the big private schools — it says to them, ‘You’ve got just as much of a chance to benefit from the greatness of this country as everybody else,’” Clyburn said on CBS.