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Biden interviews three finalists for Supreme Court as deadline looms

The White House has said President Joe Biden plans to announce his nominee before the end of the month.

President Joe Biden has interviewed three finalists for the Supreme Court vacancy that will open up when Justice Stephen Breyer retires later this year, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Biden spoke with two federal judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson and J. Michelle Childs — and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, the sources said.

The Washington Post and CNN both reported details of Biden’s interviews with the contenders earlier Tuesday.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Andrew Bates told NBC News Tuesday that Biden “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.”

All of the possible candidates are “deserving of bipartisan support,” Bates said.

The White House has said Biden, who as a presidential candidate pledged to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court for the first time in U.S. history, will make his decision known by Monday. Biden is scheduled to give his first State of the Union address next Tuesday.

The announcement would come at a challenging time for Biden, whose administration imposed new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine while battling inflation at home. But many Democrats see the Senate confirmation process of Biden's eventual nominee as a chance to rally the base heading into the November midterm elections.

Jackson, who once clerked for Breyer, was confirmed in June to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a federal panel that regularly sees judges nominated to the Supreme Court.

The Senate confirmed Jackson by a 53-44 vote. Every Democrat and three Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — supported her nomination.

Childs, a judge on the U.S. district court in Court South Carolina, was the first person the Biden administration publicly identified as a possible nominee in January.

Childs is the preferred pick of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., a longtime Biden ally who played an influential role in pushing the president to pledge he would nominate a Black woman.

Kruger was unanimously confirmed to the California Supreme Court in 2014. She was the first Black woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and as Acting Deputy Solicitor General under Obama administration.

Speaking to MSNBC earlier this month, University of California Berkeley law professor Amanda Tyler said Kruger had shown “a consistent commitment to protecting civil liberties and to making ours a more fair and just criminal justice system.”

Breyer, 83, announced last month that he would step down at the end of the current Supreme Court term. With 27 years on the bench, he is the second-longest serving after Justice Clarence Thomas.