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Biden says he’ll name replacement next month for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

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Robert Schroeder

President Joe Biden on Thursday said he’d announce his pick to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court before the end of February, and reiterated his pledge to nominate a Black woman to the high court.

Paying tribute to Breyer at the White House, Biden noted he’d long known Breyer for decades and called it a “bittersweet day.”

“His opinions are practical, sensible and nuanced,” Biden said, reflecting the belief that “the job of a judge is not to lay down a rule, but to get it right.”

See: Biden promised to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Here are the leading candidates.

Biden said he had not made any decisions on a candidate to replace Breyer. Leading candidates include Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.

“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,” Biden said. “It’s long overdue, in my view.”

A nominee to the high court requires a simple majority vote in the Senate, after Sen. Mitch McConnell, then majority leader of the chamber, invoked the “nuclear option” in 2017 to sidestep the filibuster rule in confirming Justice Neil Gorsuch to the court . Democrats today control 50 votes, with Vice President Kamala Harris empowered to break ties. Given the current party breakdown in the Senate, Republicans won’t be able to block Biden’s choice — provided Democrats and independents Bernie Sanders and Angus King vote as a bloc.

Read: Here’s how Republicans could slow — not stop — Biden’s Supreme Court nominee

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, predicted Democrats would hang together.

Two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have recently bucked their party over Biden’s Build Back Better bill and changing or suspending filibuster rules to federally protect voting rights. But as the Washington Post reports , both have supported Biden’s lower court picks, including Brown Jackson, considered by some observers to be on the inside track for Biden’s nod.

Read on: What the voting-rights bill successfully filibustered this week by Senate Republicans aimed to achieve

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