US President Barack Obama has nominated his solicitor-general Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court.
Ms Kagan’s appointment would be the first time three women will serve as part of the nine judges who form the Supreme Court, and the fourth woman to serve in the country’s history.
Her appointment would also mean she is the third Jewish member of the Supreme Court, joining six Catholic members. Fellow female judge Ruth Ginsberg is also Jewish, as is Stephen Breyer.
Ms Kagan, 50, would replace liberal judge John Paul Stevens, who is retiring aged 90. She is likely to face a tough battle from senior Republicans against her appointment.
President Obama said: "I hope the Senate will act in a bipartisan fashion, as they did in confirming Elena to be our solicitor-general last year, and that they will do so as swiftly as possible, so she can get busy and take her seat in time to fully participate in the work of the court this fall."
Leading lawyer and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz told the Jerusalem Post that he had worked with Ms Kagan for more than a decade during her time as head of Harvard Law School. He said: “Elena has never tried to hide her Jewish background.”
He said she had frequently attended the Harvard Hillel Conservative services and that she “knew how to daven and reads Hebrew.”