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Judge Michelle Childs honored by South Carolina lawyer group

April 5, 2022 GMT
FILE - U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs smiles as she works in her chambers on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at the federal courthouse in Columbia, S.C. Childs, the South Carolina federal judge recently under consideration for a slot on the U.S. Supreme Court, has been named recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Justice Award, the South Carolina Association for Justice announced Monday, April 4. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)
FILE - U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs smiles as she works in her chambers on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at the federal courthouse in Columbia, S.C. Childs, the South Carolina federal judge recently under consideration for a slot on the U.S. Supreme Court, has been named recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Justice Award, the South Carolina Association for Justice announced Monday, April 4. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)
FILE - U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs smiles as she works in her chambers on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at the federal courthouse in Columbia, S.C. Childs, the South Carolina federal judge recently under consideration for a slot on the U.S. Supreme Court, has been named recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Justice Award, the South Carolina Association for Justice announced Monday, April 4. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)
FILE - U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs smiles as she works in her chambers on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at the federal courthouse in Columbia, S.C. Childs, the South Carolina federal judge recently under consideration for a slot on the U.S. Supreme Court, has been named recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Justice Award, the South Carolina Association for Justice announced Monday, April 4. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)
FILE - U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs smiles as she works in her chambers on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at the federal courthouse in Columbia, S.C. Childs, the South Carolina federal judge recently under consideration for a slot on the U.S. Supreme Court, has been named recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Justice Award, the South Carolina Association for Justice announced Monday, April 4. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Michelle Childs, the South Carolina federal judge recently under consideration for a slot on the U.S. Supreme Court, has received a top award from a trial lawyer group in her home state.

Childs has been named the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Justice Award, the South Carolina Association for Justice announced Monday. According to the organization, the award is “given to individuals who have demonstrated exemplary leadership from the bench and ongoing contributions to the legal profession.”

Bert “Skip” Utsey, president of the attorney group, said Monday that attorneys across the state had “mixed emotions” when Childs was being considered for the high court, saying that South Carolina’s legal community feared losing one of the country’s “most respected jurists and top legal minds” to Washington.

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Childs, who has been a federal judge on South Carolina’s District Court for more than a decade, was on a shortlist of candidates being considered by President Joe Biden for an upcoming vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, given the pending retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer. She had a litany of high-profile advocates, including U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, on whose advice Biden pledged during the 2020 campaign to nominate a Black woman to the high court.

Childs’ supporters also included Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who said he was certain Childs “would have been a reliable vote for the liberal bloc of the Court” but applauded her “open mind and balance that all Americans are looking for.”

Graham, who went on to oppose eventual nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson in a party-line Judiciary Committee vote, added that he felt Childs “would have received a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate.” Three other GOP senators have come out in favor of Jackson’s nomination, all but assuring her eventual confirmation as the high court’s first Black female justice, assuming unified Democratic support.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law, Childs, 56, practiced employment law at Nexsen Pruet, where she became the firm’s first Black female partner, before serving as deputy director of South Carolina’s labor department and four years on the state Worker’s Compensation Commission.

She was a state trial court judge for five years before President Barack Obama nominated her for a position on South Carolina’s federal court.

Last year, Biden nominated Childs for a slot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A hearing had been scheduled earlier this year but was postponed while she was also under consideration for the Supreme Court.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.