Ketanji Brown Jackson.
The 51 year-old federal judge was nominated for the Supreme Court on February 25th by President Joe Biden, as Biden held true to his campaign promise of nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court for the first time ever.
Currently, Jackson serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She has held this position since June 2021, as she was the direct replacement for Merrick Garland when he assumed the Attorney General’s office.
Her background of litigation and debate started in high school, as Jackson was part of her school’s debate team. During her senior year, she won a national oratory title at the National Catholic Forensic League championships, the second-largest high school debate tournament in the country.
After graduating magna cum laude in 1992 from Harvard, Jackson worked as a staff writer for Times before attending Harvard Law, graduating cum laude in 1996. After Harvard Law, Jackson clerked for three federal judges, most notably clerking for a year under Stephen Breyer from 1999-2000. 22 years later, Breyer is the very person she will be replacing on the Supreme Court.
During her extensive and impressive legal career, she most notably served as a federal public defender in Washington, D.C. from 2005-2007. She handled many cases in front of the very court she currently resides on, and a review of her time as a public defender showed that “she won uncommon victories against the government that shortened or erased lengthy prison terms.”
Jackson would be the first public defender to serve on the Supreme Court, which is almost unfathomable to consider. Well, not really. I forget that this is the United States.
Jackson was nominated to the District Court of the D.C. Circuit in 2012 by President Obama. Her time on the district court was categorized by her multiple decisions adverse to the positions of the Trump administration. However, a few of these decisions were overturned which has allowed Republicans to use this against her before going into her congressional hearings for the Supreme Court nomination. It is important to note that she has made over 600 decisions during her time on the federal bench, and has less than 12 reversals which is an extremely impressive record for any judge, especially a Supreme Court nominee.
Shortly after the Biden announcement of her nomination, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement saying, “The Senate must conduct a rigorous, exhaustive review of Judge Jackson’s nomination as befits a lifetime appointment to our highest Court. This is especially crucial as American families face major crises that connect directly to our legal system, such as skyrocketing violent crime and open borders.”
The irony is almost too good here. The casual racism is also very much on display.
She will undoubtedly face rigorous and idiotic questioning from the congressional Republicans at the hearing, who will use any tactic to shred any amount of credibility on Jackson’s record.
But, for now, that’s besides the point.
Biden, who has been incredibly underwhelming in many judicial and legal appointments, made the best choice for his Supreme Court nominee. Instead of caving in to electing a big law, anti-worker lawyer, Biden nominated the first public defender and the first black woman to the Supreme Court.
And it is long overdue.
Many of the initial reactions from the right have been, “Jackson was chosen because she was a black woman. Is this not choosing someone solely by their race rather than their ability, which is what Democrats are supposedly against?”
There have been 115 people that have sat on the United States Supreme Court. Take a quick guess as to how many of those people have been non-white. Whatever number you just came up with, I guarantee that the real number is lower.
Three. Yes. I know. Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas, and Sonia Sotomayor.
You can count it on less than one full hand. How anyone can think that in the history of the United States there have not been more than three qualified non-white judges is just racist. To claim that Ketanji Brown Jackson’s appointment is due to race instead of her qualifications is attempting to justify an institution that has brutally discriminated against people of color in this country since its founding.
It is criminal how little representation people of color, especially women of color, have had on the Supreme Court. With Jackson’s nomination, generations and generations of children growing up can now look to the most powerful legal body in the country and see that they can aspire to be there one day.
So, thank you to President Biden for actually sticking to at least one of his campaign promises, which have been far and few between.
The Supreme Court will be better with Jackson’s presence, and allow the Democrats to keep a solid core of Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ketanji Jackson Brown as the three liberals on the court to fight the attempted legal and judicial takeover of the conservatives.