Jewish Americans have a long history when it comes to playing a role in the American legal system. Specifically, eight Jews have served on the United States Supreme Court. Many with great distinction too: Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Today two Jews, Stephen Breyer and Elana Kagan serve on the United States Supreme Court. Currently, the Court has a 6-3 conservative majority. With Democrats having control of the White House and Senate, calls have emerged for the liberal Stephen Breyer, who is 82-years old, to retire.
Breyer sits on the Court’s “Jewish seat.” For the past 100 years, this seat has generally been reserved for Jewish Justices. The seat was held by Benjamin Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Goldberg, and Abe Fortas. President Richard Nixon temporarily ended the tradition by placing Harry Blackmun, who was not Jewish, in the seat. However, following Blackmun’s retirement in 1994, President Bill Clinton successfully nominated Justice Breyer to this seat.
President Joe Biden has stated that he wants to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. The two frontrunners for who Biden may nominate are Leondra Kruger, an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Judge of the D.C. District Court. Other names suggested include J. Michelle Childs, a District Judge from South Carolina, Leslie Abrams Gardner, a District Judge from Georgia, and Melissa Murray, a law professor.
While all those being considered are highly-qualified jurists, Kruger is regarded as the front runner by many. Kruger, who is just 44 years old, has a jurisprudence that aligns closely with Breyer’s, and she is young enough that she could serve on the Supreme Court for decades to come.
However, Kruger would also continue the tradition of the Court’s “Jewish seat.” Kruger’s late father was Jewish and the son of European immigrants to the United States. He was a pediatrician. Kruger’s mother is Jamaican.
Not much is publicly known about Kruger’s Jewish-identity. That said, if nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court, Kruger would be the Court’s ninth Jewish Justice, sixth female Justice, and third Black Justice.