Julianna Michelle Childs, a U.S. District Court judge in South Carolina, was born on March 24, 1966, in Detroit, Michigan. Her father, Ralph Childs, was a former U.S. Junior Table Tennis Champion, and her mother, Shandra Childs-Thomas, was a personnel manager for Michigan Bell.
In 1984, Childs graduated from Columbia High School in Detroit. She was high school class president and valedictorian. In 1988, she received a Bachelor of Arts in management at the University of South Florida, where she also pledged the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. During her sophomore year in 1986, she competed in and won the Miss Black Florida pageant. When the pageant director failed to provide promised prizes, Childs sued and won the lawsuit.
After completing undergraduate studies, Childs enrolled at the University of South Carolina School of Law. She earned a Juris Doctor and a Master of Arts in personnel and employment relations from the School of Business in 1991. Afterward, she worked at Nexsen Pruet, a Charleston, South Carolina law firm and was named a partner in 2000, becoming the first African American woman partner at a prominent South Carolina law firm. In August 2000, Childs married Floyd Angus, a physician who practices in Sumter, South Carolina. They are the parents of a daughter, Julianna.
From 2000 to 2006, Childs worked for the state of South Carolina as the deputy director of the division of labor with the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. She later served as a commissioner on the Workers’ Compensation Commission and briefly as an acting justice on the South Carolina Supreme Court.
In 2010, President Barack Obama nominated Childs for a seat on the federal trial bench, and she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Four years later, in 2014, she presided over the case Bradacs v. Haley, where plaintiffs Katherine Bradacs and Tracie Goodwin filed a lawsuit against Governor Nimrata (Nikki) Randhawa Haley, seeking to challenge both the state’s statute and constitutional amendment that denied legal recognition and equal protection to same-sex unions. Childs ruled in favor of the two women who had married in Washington, D.C.
Childs returned to formal judicial studies at Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina in 2014 and received a Masters of Law in 2016. In 2022, J. Michelle Childs was one of three finalists considered by President Joseph Biden for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Eventually, Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, from the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, to replace the vacancy created by the announcement that Associate Justice Stephen Breyer was retiring.