Ketanji Brown Jackson to make history as the first Black woman in the highest court
By Morgan Miles, Staff Writer
Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the Senate last Thursday, making history as the first Black female Supreme Court Justice. She is also the third Black justice and the first former federal public defender to serve on the highest court in the U.S.
President Joe Biden nominated Judge Jackson on Feb. 25, following the announcement of Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement. During the search process, Biden emphasized the importance of nominating a justice who would bring a diverse background and varying experiences to the court.
After a period of opposition from Republican Senators who deadlocked her nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday’s 53-47 vote was the most definitive since 2017.
Following the confirmation, Biden tweeted that “we’ve taken another step toward making out highest court reflect the diversity of America.”
Jackson followed in her father’s footsteps as a lawyer, graduating magma cum laude from Harvard University in 1992; she returned to Cambridge for another four years to earn her law degree.
The 51-year-old’s professional career has been fast-tracked for success since she graduated. She worked as a clerk until 2009 when former President Barack Obama nominated her for the U.S. Sentencing Commissions, where she helped oversee the equity of federal sentences. In 2012 she became a district court judge, and in 2016 she was selected as a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers. Most recently, Biden asked her to serve as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which was approved to do in 2021.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D – Ga.) celebrated Jackson’s confirmation, commenting “I know how much it means for Judge Jackson to have navigated the double jeopardy of racism and sexism to now stand in the glory of this moment.”
“What a great day it is in America,” University of Georgia law professor Melissa Redmon said. She explained how Jackson’s background as a defense attorney will offer a unique perspective on cases involving the fourth, fifth, sixth and fourteenth amendments.
“You have someone who’s intimately familiar with that,” Redmon remarked.
In her speech on Friday, Jackson recognized the significance of her confirmation.
“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” she said. “But we’ve made it. We’ve made it, all of us.”