Biden Nominates Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to Become 1st Black Female on the US Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. CircuitGetty

President Biden announced Friday he was nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the nation's highest court. If approved, she would be the first Black female to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

President Joe Biden announced Friday he was nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I'm proud to announce that I am nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court. Currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, she is one of our nation's brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice," Biden tweeted Friday.

Biden nominated Jackson last year to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She previously served eight years as a district judge in D.C. federal court.

She has also worked as a public defender and was a clerk under Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Her nomination, if confirmed, would replace Breyer, who announced his retirement at age 83 in January. Biden reviewed several candidates to fulfill his campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the high court.

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

If approved, she would be the first Supreme Court justice since Thurgood Marshall to have represented indigent defendants accused of committing criminal offenses.

She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, and graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. She was an editor at the Harvard Law Review.

Jackson grew up in Miami. When she told her high school guidance counselor that she wanted to attend Harvard, she was advised to not set her “sights so high.”

Former President Barak Obama praised her nomination Friday, saying Jackson had already inspired "young Black women like my daughters to set their sights higher."

Republicans were far more subdued in their reactions.

"The Senate must conduct a rigorous, exhaustive review of Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court," tweeted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

During her confirmation hearing for the U.S. Court of Appeals, she was asked by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas what role race placed in her judicial career.

“I don’t think that race plays a role in the kind of judge that I have been and would be," she answered. "I’m doing a certain thing when I get my cases. I’m looking at the arguments, the facts and the law.

"I’m methodically and intentionally setting aside personal views, 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," she continued.

Though historic, her nomination would not change the ideological makeup of the court. It currently has six conservative justices and three liberal ones. If confirmed, Jackson would become only the third Black person to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court since its establishment in 1789, behind Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. 

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