Supreme Court fight starts out tame for Biden: The Note

ABC News
ABC News

The TAKE with Rick Klein

President Joe Biden seemed nostalgic for a bygone era -- "in those days, we tried to do things together" -- in celebrating the career of Justice Stephen Breyer at Breyer's formal retirement announcement on Thursday.

There will be no throwbacks when it comes to confirming Breyer's replacement , whom Biden has committed to name by the end of February. But there are early reasons to think the recent streak of scorched-earth battles followed by near-party-line votes could be broken.

Both parties see reasons to turn down the temperature. Democrats, of course, want to deliver quickly on a central promise that has the added benefit of making history, given the president's commitment to name a Black woman.

Republicans see an upside in making vulnerable Democrats own Biden's pick, and few things fire up small-dollar donations like a Supreme Court vacancy. Still, confirming a new justice won't chip away at the conservatives' 6-3 majority, and if Democrats are united, Biden will get his choice confirmed no matter what GOP senators do about it.

While vetting brings up inevitable twists and turns, leaders in both parties see the near future and don't particularly mind an easy confirmation. The predominant conservative worldview is that the high court is about to deliver on an array of huge issues this year -- and they also happen to like their chances in taking back the Senate this fall.

Getting even a few Republican senators to vote to confirm a new justice will be a monumental lift. But it's notable that in this supercharged and divisive political era, it's possible that the coming push for confirmation is defined by a mutual de-escalation.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

After Biden's remarks on Justice Breyer's retirement, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., weighed in on how Biden should approach his first Supreme Court nomination.

"The President must not outsource this important decision to the radical left," McConnell said in a statement.
Bloomberg via Getty Images - PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rides the Senate subway in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, Jan. 19, 2022.

The comment garnered a sharp response from White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

"If anyone is saying they plan to characterize whoever he nominates after thorough consideration with both parties as radical before they know literally anything about who she is, they just obliterated their own credibility," Psaki said at Thursday's press briefing.

McConnell's call for Biden to refrain from "outsourcing" the search process stands in conflict with Republican efforts to reshape the judiciary during the Trump administration.

It is no secret that the conservative legal group The Federalist Society played a pivotal role in identifying the scores of judges Trump put on the bench, including the three nominees who ascended to the nation's highest court during his term.

Biden said Tuesday he would consult both Democratic and Republican senators, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris during the process.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

After Biden told reporters last week he plans to get out of Washington, D.C., more frequently, the president heads to Pittsburgh on Friday, where he will promote the policy achievements of his administration. The trip to Pennsylvania -- the state that landed him the presidency -- is his second visit of the year to a 2022 midterm battleground .

But the move also comes as the president bears the burden of low approval ratings during a crucial election cycle in which Democrats are defending their Senate majority. The overlap could put a sharper spotlight on which Democratic candidates appear with Biden on the campaign trail.
Bloomberg via Getty Images - PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 26, 2022.

According to an AP report, at least one Senate candidate plans to attend the event -- Rep. Conor Lamb, who represents a western-Pennsylvania district in Congress. Meanwhile, others tell ABC News they support the president's efforts but will not be in attendance.

"It's great that President Biden is coming to Pittsburgh to talk about infrastructure. If infrastructure is Elvis, then Pittsburgh is Graceland. It's great to come to the city that helped build America to talk about rebuilding America. I'll be in Harrisburg on Friday meeting with Democrats from across the commonwealth at State Committee and talking about the 2022 midterm election," said Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said he attended a Zoom meeting with the president and a small group of his early supporters last week to mark the one-year anniversary of his presidency, but would not be in attendance for Friday's event. "I welcome the President back to Pennsylvania; every time he is on the road talking about the basic bargain is a good thing for Democrats and for the country," Kenyatta said.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

42%. That's how many Ukrainians say they had a positive feeling toward Russia in data compiled from the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology . Given the current situation at Ukraine's border with Russia, that's not necessarily surprising, but it is part of a long, ongoing trend. That is, since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, beginning a long, grinding war on Ukraine's eastern border, public opinion toward Russia has been increasingly negative in the country. Read more from Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux on how Ukrainians are feeling about the escalation with Russia.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. On Start Here Friday morning, ABC's Mary Bruce guides us through President Biden's thinking for his Supreme Court nominee. Then, ABC's Kiara Alfonseca takes a look at the debate over what should be taught in schools and what lessons two districts have decided NOT to teach. And finally, ABC's Stephanie Ebbs explores how our gas stoves could be contributing to climate change.


  • President Joe Biden travels to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Friday to deliver 2 p.m. remarks at Carnegie Mellon University on supply chains, American manufacturing and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
  • White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre gaggles aboard Air Force One en route to Pennsylvania.
  • On Saturday, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party holds its winter endorsement meeting to issue endorsements in the gubernatorial, Senate and lieutenant governor races.
  • Sunday on ABC's "This Week" : Anchor George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one exclusively with a key GOP voice in the coming Supreme Court confirmation battle, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Plus, the Powerhouse Roundtable discusses all the week's politics with former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie , former DNC Chair and ABC News Contributor Donna Brazile , former Florida Congresswoman and former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and former Texas Congressman Will Hurd .
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Monday for the latest.

    Comments / 89


    How do you vow to pick a particular race and gender when you don't have a clue if you can find that race and gender that have the qualifications for the job. This is what happens when you have a president and vp that are not qualified for the job themselves.


    Yeah, name a black woman! Education not required, Experience on a court not required! Law degree not required! But ya gotta be black! No Asians, No latinas!


    the only thing biden is committed to is tearing down every step of progress trump made in bringing production back to our shores. it's all about money and investments. globalization is not good for our nation, it only helps the rich get richer by using cheap foreign labor and materials.


    Comments / 0