Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Donate
Topics

Historic nomination: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson nominated for the Supreme Court

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Jackson served as a law clerk to three federal judges, including Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court.

U.S. Appeals Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson accepting President Joe Biden's nomination to be a U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice.
U.S. Appeals Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson accepting President Joe Biden's nomination to be a U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

President Joe Biden announced Friday morning his nomination for the newest Supreme Court Justice. 

If confirmed, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will become the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, fulfilling Biden’s campaign promise of appointing a Black woman to the nation’s highest court.

“Judge Jackson is an exceptionally qualified nominee as well as an historic nominee,” the White House said in a statement. “And the Senate should move forward with a fair and timely hearing and confirmation.”

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Jackson served as a law clerk to three federal judges, including Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court. It would be Breyer’s seat that Jackson would fill. 

Article continues after advertisement

As Breyer’s clerk during the court’s 1999-2000 term, Jackson “learned up close how important it is for a Supreme Court Justice to build consensus and speak to a mainstream understanding of the Constitution,” the White House said in its announcement

Biden nominated Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last summer, so her rise has been a quick one. During her confirmation hearing, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) asked her how race would affect her job.

“I don’t think that race plays a role in the kind of judge that I have been and would be. I’m doing a certain thing when I get my cases,” Jackson answered. “I’m looking at the arguments, the facts and the law. I’m methodically and intentionally setting aside personal views (and) any other inappropriate considerations, and I would think that race would be the kind of thing that would be inappropriate to inject into my evaluation of a case.”

Jackson also expressed that she believed her unique perspective was crucial to the court.

“I’ve experienced life in perhaps a different way than some of my colleagues because of who I am, and that might be valuable — I hope it would be valuable — if I was confirmed to the court,” she said.

Though Jackson is Biden’s final choice, she was among a slate of incredibly qualified candidates, including one from Minnesota. Minnesota U.S. District Court Judge Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright was on Biden’s short list of candidates and had a lot of support from former colleagues and Minnesota lawmakers.

Still, though, Democrats in Minnesota’s federal delegation are celebrating Jackson’s nomination.

Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court is historic,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar tweeted on Friday. “(One-hundred and 15) Supreme Court Justices & she will be the 1st black woman. Qualified & fair-minded, I was proud to support her for other positions. Look forward to working on her confirmation with Democratic & Republican colleagues.”

Sen. Tina Smith also expressed support for Jackson, calling her an “outstanding choice of nominee” and “exceptionally well-qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.” 

Article continues after advertisement

Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum called Jackson’s nomination a “fantastic choice given her impressive qualifications. Having been confirmed to the DC Circuit Court with bipartisan support, I anticipate a quick confirmation to SCOTUS.”

Jackson needs only a simple majority for confirmation from the evenly divided Senate, and as long as all Democratic senators vote in favor, Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the deciding vote. A likely vote will be held in early April.