Friday’s nomination by President Joe Biden of Judge Ketanji Jackson to Federal Appeals Court made her the first Black woman to be elected to the Supreme Court. This is a court that has previously declared her race unworthy to citizenship and supported American segregation.
Biden introduced Jackson at the White House and stated, “It’s time we have a judiciary that reflects all the talents and greatness in our nation.”
The president, standing beside his nominee, praised her for having “a pragmatic understanding of the law must work to the American people.”
Jackson was Biden’s speech on , a campaign promise to fulfill the historic appointment and diversify a court which had been dominated by white men almost two centuries.
He also selected an attorney to be the high court’s former public defense. However, she has the same elite legal background as other justices.
Jackson would replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring at the end of the term. Clarence Thomas, a conservative and the other, is the other — and only the third member in history. She would replace Justice Stephen Breyer (83), a liberal justice. This will not change the court’s conservative 6-3 majority.
Jackson will join the court in its consideration of cuts to abortion rights. The court will also be looking at ending affirmative action for college admissions and restricting voter rights efforts to increase minority representation.
Although she would only be the sixth woman to serve on this court, she would join three other Latinas, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, already there.
Jackson briefly thanked Biden and said she was humbled by the “extraordinary honor” of her nomination. She also highlighted Jackson’s family’s firsthand experience with the entire legal system: judges and lawyers, her uncle, who was Miami’s chief police officer, and another who was in prison on drug charges.
She spoke out about the historic nature her nomination and noted that she was born on the same day as Constance Baker Motley (the first Black woman to be confirmed for the federal bench).
She said, “If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed to the Supreme Court United States as the next associate justice, I can only wish that my life, career, love of this country, and my commitment towards upholding the rule law and the sacred principles on which this great nation was founded, inspire future generations of Americans.”
Jackson, 51, was once a Breyer law clerk in her early legal career. As an undergraduate, she attended Harvard Law School. She also served as a U.S. Representative. Sentencing Commission, which is responsible for developing federal sentencing policies, before she became a federal judge.
The Senate must confirm her nomination. Democrats control the majority with a slim 50-50 margin. Vice President Kamala Harir serves as tie-breaker. The leaders of the parties have promised to expedite but thoughtful consideration.
Because the Senate was not in session this week, only White House staff, Jackson’s families and journalists were able to attend Friday’s ceremony.
Because of the pandemic everyone wore masks, with Jackson and Biden removing theirs to talk. As she spoke, he bent down to grab a lectern step to support her.
Two years after Biden had failed to win the Democratic nomination for president, introduced her. In a South Carolina debate promised to nominate a Black woman in any vacancy.
Dick Durbin, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated in a statement that they will “begin immediately to consider an “extraordinary nominee” and move forward with confirmation. Senators have set a tentative goal for confirmation by April 8 when they depart for a two week spring recess. The hearings could begin as early as mid-March.
This timeline could be impacted by a variety of factors, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the prolonged absence of Democratic Senator Ben Ray Lujan from New Mexico, who suffered an unexpected stroke last month and has been out for several weeks. If no Republicans support Lujan, Democrats will need her vote to confirm Biden’s selection.
After the Senate has received the nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee will review it and hold confirmation hearings. The Senate floor votes on a nomination once it has been approved by the committee.
Biden and Senate Democrats hope for a bipartisan vote on nomination. However, it is unclear if they can win over any GOP senators following bitterly partisan confirmation battles. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was one of three Republicans that voted to confirm Jackson on the appeals court. He had pushed Biden into naming a different candidate from his state, Judge J. Michelle Childs. Childs was also supported by James Clyburn, a Biden ally.
Graham stated earlier this month that his vote would be “very difficult” if it were to go to anyone else. He expressed disappointment in a Friday tweet. He and others on the right predicted a possible Republican attack line. They said that Biden would vote for the “radical left” choice.
Senator Republican Leader Mitch McConnell stated that he was looking forward to meeting Jackson and “studying [her] record, legal views, and judicial philosophy.” However, he pointed out that he had voted against Jackson one year ago.
Biden stated that he is interested in selecting a nominee who is similar to Breyer and could work with the other justices. Breyer’s votes tend to have placed him to the right of center on an increasingly conservative Court, but he often saw the gray in situations where his colleagues were more likely find black or white.
Jackson said that Justice Breyer — The members of the Senate will determine if I fill my seat,” Jackson stated Friday, praising Jackson’s “civility and grace, pragmatism, and generosity of spirit” for the retirement of justice.
She said, “But please understand that I could never replace your shoes.”
Chuck Schumer, Democratic Senate Majority Leader, stated that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, with her extraordinary qualifications and track record of evenhandedness will be a justice who will uphold and protect the Constitution and all Americans’ rights, including those who are voiceless or vulnerable.
According to Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, all three interviews were conducted on February 14. Biden also spoke with lawmakers from both parties as well as a variety of legal experts to learn more about the finalist’s legal writings.
Psaki stated that Biden called Jackson late on Thursday to inform him of his decision and he informed Democratic congressional leadership Friday morning.
Jackson is a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit. This position was created by Biden last year after she left her job as a federal judge. The current three justices — Brett Kavanaugh, Thomas Kavanaugh, and John Roberts (the chief justice) — all previously served on the appeals court.
On a 53-44 Senate vote Jackson was confirmed, with the support of three Republicans: Graham and Susan Collins from Maine, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska.
Jackson’s most famous decision was when she, as a judge in a trial court, ordered Don McGahn, former White House Counsel to appear before Congress. This was a blow to Trump’s attempts to prevent his top aides testifying. McGahn was eventually allowed to testify after the case was appealed.
She was an appeals court judge and was part of a panel that ruled against Trump’s attempt to shield documents from the House investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at U.S. Capitol.
Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Miami. Ellery and Johnny Brown, Jackson’s parents, gave their name to Jackson as a way to show their pride in her African heritage. An aunt from Africa, who was serving in the Peace Corps at the time, asked them to send a list with names for African girls. They chose Ketanji Onyika which meant “lovely one”.
Jackson’s interest in law dates back to her preschool days. Her father was a lawyer and Jackson was in kindergarten. They would often sit at the table together, Jackson with her coloring books and he the law books. Her mother was a high-school principal and her father was an attorney for the county schools board. Nine years older, her brother served in the Army and was in Iraq. He is also a lawyer.