In historic first, US President Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson to US Supreme Court

PRESIDENT Joe Biden on Friday nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to serve as a Supreme Court justice. Biden’s announcement fulfilled his campaign promise to nominate the first black woman to serve on the court.
If Jackson, 51, is confirmed to succeed Judge Stephen Breyer, 83, who last month said he would resign this summer, the ideological balance on the court dominated by conservatives should not change. But Jackson’s confirmation would ensure that Breyer’s seat remains filled by a judge appointed by a Democratic president for the foreseeable future, and she would also go down in history in another way, as the first federal public defender to serve on the court.
Jackson had been widely considered a likely candidate even before Breyer announced his retirement, but on Friday Biden made it official. Biden entered the White House ceremony with Jackson and Vice President Kamala Harris. All were masked, with Biden and Jackson removing their masks to speak.
Biden left first. He noted that “for too long our government and our courts have not looked like America”. He also emphasized that he was looking for a judge with a “pragmatic understanding that the law should work for the American people”, who knows that “the Constitution is a resilient charter of liberty”.
Jackson, Biden claimed, is the kind of extraordinarily qualified candidate who can inspire others to serve the United States “at the highest level.” He praised Jackson’s “exceptionally accomplished and varied experience”. In addition to spending two years as an Assistant Federal Public Defender, she worked in private practice at several major law firms and served on the US Sentencing Commission. In 2012, President Barack Obama nominated her to become a U.S. District Judge in Washington, DC, and she was confirmed in that position the following year. After eight years in district court, she was nominated and confirmed to the DC Circuit last year.
If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Jackson would be the first justice with significant experience representing defendants since Justice Thurgood Marshall, who retired in 1991. She would also join Justice Sonia Sotomayor as the l one of only two current members of the tribunal with trial experience. -court judge — “a critical qualification in my view,” Biden said.
In his brief remarks, Jackson described his life story, focusing mostly on the personal side rather than the professional side. She began by thanking God, saying her life “has been blessed beyond measure” and that “one can only go so far by faith.” Jackson has described her father, who left a public teaching career to go to law school as a child, as her “first professional role model.”
Jackson acknowledged (as news reports had reported) that one of his uncles was sentenced to life in prison for federal drug trafficking. (He was released after Obama commuted his sentence in 2016.) But she pointed out that her family also had ties to law enforcement: After graduating from college, her brother became a police officer and eventually detective, working in downtown Baltimore before joining the military and doing two tours of duty in the Middle East. And another uncle was chief of police in Miami.
She spoke directly to Breyer, for whom she worked in the late 1990s: “The members of the Senate will decide if I can fill your seat,” Jackson said. “But I could never fill your shoes.”
Jackson noted what she described as an “interesting coincidence”: She shares a birthday with Constance Baker Motley, who became the first black woman to serve on the federal bench when she was named a district judge in 1966. Jackson stressed that she stands “on Judge Motley’s shoulders, sharing not only her birthday but her unwavering commitment to equal justice under the law. Jackson can only hope, she said. , that his own life and career — and his love of the United States and the Constitution — will inspire future generations.
With that, Jackson put on his mask again and — after a brief pause for Biden to belatedly introduce Dr. Jill Biden and Douglas Emhoff, the vice president’s husband — the trio left the room together.
The announcement of Jackson’s nomination came at the end of a week in which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was making headlines in the United States and around the world. During Thursday’s White House press conference, White House press secretary Jen Psaki assured reporters that despite the war, Biden was still on track to name a candidate by the end of the day. end of February – which is also Black History Month. If confirmed, Jackson will go down in history in his own right.
(This article was originally published at Howe on the Court, and republished from the SCOTUSblog under the Creative Commons license.)

Kevin E. Boling