Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Nominated to be Supreme Court Justice

On February 25th, President Joe Biden put forth his nomination for the next Supreme Court Justice, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Judge Jackson is the first Black woman to be nominated and, if confirmed, to serve on the Supreme Court. The promise of selecting a Black woman for the position dates back to Joe Biden’s campaigning days for the 2020 election. Jackson will be replacing Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer. 

A statement from the White House describes Biden’s candidates for this nomination to have, “exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law.” Jackson has been considered the front-runner by media outlets from the start, especially considering her former appointment to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by President Biden. She is a Harvard University and Harvard Law graduate who currently serves as federal judge on the Court of Appeals. The rest of her resume is just as impressive, having previously held positions as a federal judge in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission, and a federal public defender. Biden expresses his admiration for Jackson, describing her as, “carefully reasoned, tethered to precedent and demonstrates respect for how the law impacts everyday people.”

Jackson is renowned for her victories in her days of being a criminal defense attorney, shortening prison sentences otherwise considered immovable. The origins of Jackson’s devotion to her defense work are rooted in her youth, with a history of law enforcement and public service in her family. If confirmed, Jackson will also be the first former public defender on the Supreme Court. While serving on the District Court of D.C. Jackson ruled on matters of immigration, labor unions, and executive testimonial immunity, often siding against the interests of the Trump Administration during the time. 

This historical moment for the Supreme Court draws attention to the plights of its history. The highest court in the country has only had two Black people and five women to serve in its 230 year history. Jackson is ready to step up to the plate, supporting the notion that, “the Supreme Court reflects the nation as a whole.” While Jackson’s nomination has been welcomed by many, Biden’s assertion that he’d only nominate a woman of color has ruffled a few feathers, with people on the other side of the aisle arguing that one’s skin color or gender identity should not factor into their place in office. However, those fighting for greater representation in our government stand by this move by the President. Biden defended his stance saying that, “we’re one step closer to moving toward a representative democratic nation.” 

This nomination comes at a critical time for the Democratic Party, who has just narrowly secured the majority in the Senate. Justice Breyer’s retirement poses an opportunity for the party to ensure a liberal-leaning seat in the Supreme Court after three appointments by former President Trump during the run of his administration. The current makeup of the Supreme Court has a conservative majority, with six justices appointed during a Republican administration. 

Now, Democrats are expecting that Jackson’s academic and legal background will aid her through her confirmation, banking on her bipartisan support for her Court of Appeals appointment to continue into her confirmation to the Supreme Court. If appointed, Democrats hope that Jackson’s presence on the court will bring a fresh and defensible liberal voice to the high stakes battles on issues like reproductive rights, vaccinations, and climate change. Regardless of how these matters play out, Judge Kettanji Brown Jackson has secured her place in our history books, triumphing over systems long exclusionary and forging a better path for people of color and women alike.