Biden nears Supreme Court pick after interviews with short-list candidates

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden is zeroing in on his first pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, completing interviews with candidates on his short list and moving toward a final decision this week, a person familiar with the process confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday.

Biden said this month he was considering “about four” names — all Black women — to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, studying their writings, legal experience and personal backgrounds.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs, 55, is the only person publicly confirmed by the White House as under formal consideration and is endorsed by South Carolina Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, an influential Biden ally. U.S. Appeals Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, 45, are also getting a close look, sources have told ABC News.

Jackson, a former Breyer clerk who previously met one-on-one with Biden at the White House ahead of her appeals court nomination, is widely considered the front-runner. A spokesman said the president has been impressed with her “experience in roles at all levels of the justice system, her character and her legal brilliance.”

The completion of several interviews means the president is nearing a decision, but a White House spokesman said late Tuesday that “the president has not yet chosen a nominee.”

“He continues to evaluate eminently qualified individuals in the mold of Justice Breyer who have the strongest records, intellect, character, and dedication to the rule of law that anyone could ask for – and all of whom would be deserving of bipartisan support,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates tweeted.

The Washington Post, citing anonymous sources, reported that Jackson and Childs have been interviewed. The White House and allies close to the process declined to comment on the report to ABC News.

Despite the fact that Biden’s schedule and attention have been dominated by the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, aides say announcement of the nomination — promised by the end of the month — is expected this week. Exact timing and format of a nomination event have not been determined because the president has not formally made his pick, sources said.

The president’s allies on Capitol Hill and among grassroots groups have begun mobilizing to promote and defend the nominee, gearing up for a media blitz to mark both the historic nature of the nomination and counter expected Republican attacks, some of which have already been racially-charged.

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