Person

J. Michelle Childs

Born:

1966

Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Judge

Michelle Childs is a judge on the United States District Court for South Carolina, a position to which President Barack Obama appointed her in 2010. [1] Previously, Childs was also a South Carolina state court judge. Before that, she held management positions in the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and the state Worker’s Compensation Commission. Childs also worked in private practice. [2]

In January 2022, following the news that Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer would retire, President Joe Biden reiterated his campaign pledge that he would nominate a black woman to the Court. USA Today reported that Childs was a leading contender. Biden had nominated Childs to serve on the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit earlier that month, before Justice Breyer had announced his retirement. USA Today also reported that Biden’s consideration of Childs and other Black female contenders was part of his administration’s broader agenda to appoint more federal court judges on the basis of race and gender. [3]

Childs has said that the judicial system should play an active role in shaping policies and social norms. In a 2020 interview with the University of South Carolina law school, she claimed that members of the legal profession “have a crucial role, individually and collectively, to be architects of society.” [4]

In November 2014, Childs ruled that South Carolina authorities had to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state Supreme Court had previously ordered that no licenses be issued in a case involving two women who were attempting to get married. In her decision, Childs sided with the women, as well as with the county probate judges who had been issuing marriage licenses prior to the pause ordered by the state Supreme Court. [5]

Supreme Court Consideration

In January 2022, it was reported that Childs, as well as a number of other candidates, were under consideration from the Biden administration for nomination to the Supreme Court. All the prospective nominees were Black women. Many Republican legislators and right-of-center observers criticized the administration for imposing race and gender standards. However, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) praised Childs and voiced support for Biden’s decision to only consider Black female candidates. Graham equated Biden’s actions to President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Supreme Court justice. Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) also endorsed Childs, and CNN reported that he has personally lobbied Biden to convince him to nominate her. [6]

In February 2022, Politico reported that a former law clerk for Ketanji Brown Jackson, another contender for Justice Breyer’s seat on the Supreme Court, had allegedly attempted to sabotage Childs as well as several other potential nominees by making unfavorable edits to their profiles on Wikipedia. In Childs’ profile, Godi added details which suggested that she had represented companies who had been accused of race- and gender-based discrimination, as well as employers who were opposed to employee unionization efforts. A spokesperson for the district court on which Judge Childs serves told Politico that Childs was declining to comment on the incident. [7]

References

  1. John Fritze. “Biden considers Judge J. Michelle Childs and may cast wider net for Supreme Court vacancy.” USA Today. January 30, 2022. Accessed February 6, 2022. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/01/29/white-house-biden-considering-judge-childs-supreme-court/9267824002/ ^
  2. “Q&A with Judge J. Michelle Childs.” University of South Carolina. Accessed February 6, 2022. https://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/law/alumni/get_informed/news/2020/michelle_childs_qa.php ^
  3. John Fritze. “Biden considers Judge J. Michelle Childs and may cast wider net for Supreme Court vacancy.” USA Today. January 30, 2022. Accessed February 6, 2022. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/01/29/white-house-biden-considering-judge-childs-supreme-court/9267824002/ ^
  4. “Q&A with Judge J. Michelle Childs.” University of South Carolina. Accessed February 6, 2022. https://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/law/alumni/get_informed/news/2020/michelle_childs_qa.php ^
  5. “First gay marriage licenses issued in South Carolina.” Tampa Bay Times. November 19, 2014. Accessed February 6, 2022. https://www.tampabay.com/news/nation/1st-gay-marriage-licenses-issued-in-south-carolina/2207123/ ^
  6. Aaron Pellish and Sonnet Swire. “Republican Sen. Graham heaps praise on fellow South Carolinian and potential Supreme Court nominee J. Michelle Childs.” CNN. January 30, 2022. Accessed February 6, 2022. https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/30/politics/lindsey-graham-j-michelle-childs-supreme-court/index.html ^
  7. Samuel Benson. “Former clerk rewrites SCOTUS contenders’ Wikipedia bios.” Politico. February 4, 2022. Accessed February 6, 2022. https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/04/former-clerk-rewrites-supreme-court-wikipedia-bios-00005914 ^
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