On Friday afternoon, President Joe Biden announced his pick for the Supreme Court when Justice Stephen Breyer retires at the end of the current term. Ketanji Brown Jackson, a federal appellate judge, is Biden’s choice for the replacement.
Biden was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Brown, who addressed the White House press after her introduction. As he announced Ms. Brown, Biden said that America’s highest court should reflect “the full talents and greatness of our nation.” Biden made his announcement nearly two years to the day that he vowed, while on the 2020 campaign trail, that he would nominate the first black female to the Supreme Court.
If confirmed, Jackson will be only the third African American to sit on the Court.
Biden praised Jackson’s accomplishments: “(she is a) proven consensus builder, an accomplished lawyer, a distinguished jurist . . .(I) looked for someone like Justice Breyer who has a pragmatic understanding that the law must work for the American people.”
Jackson is a logical choice to follow in Stephen Breyer’s footsteps; she clerked under the justice she is slated to replace.
Although her confirmation will not change the current conservative make-up of the Court, she would be considered a liberal justice. Currently, conservatives number six on the court while more liberal justices number only three.
In her remarks, Jackson thanked her parents for their support and thanked God “for delivering me to this point in my professional journey. My life has been blessed beyond measure.”
So, who is Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson? She was named as a front runner for a potential Supreme Court nominee by political pundits since Stephen Breyer announced his retirement earlier this month. She has extensive legal experience, and her time as a public defender has progressives praising Biden’s choice. At only 51, Jackson could serve on the court for several decades to come, so it’s important to consider her resume’ should she be confirmed.
Jackson’s Early Years
Jackson’s education credentials are impeccable. She graduated from Harvard with magna cum laude distinction. She obtained her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, graduating cum laude. During her teen years, Jackson was a member of the debate team at a Miami, Florida high school. Her high school yearbook details that Jackson was a member of numerous extracurricular clubs; in fact, she actually predicted that she would land a Supreme Court nomination one day.
Jackson has shared that, as a child, she would sit beside her father, also an attorney, who was then working to achieve a law degree. Jackson said she would sit with him and color while her father studied, and his determination served as a role model for her own life.
Ketanji’s mother was an educator, eventually working as a high school principal.
Jackson’s family has close ties to law enforcement. Her brother has worked for the Baltimore police force, and two of her uncles also worked in law enforcement.
Jackson’s Personal Life
Ketanji Brown Jackson is married to Patrick Jackson, who is a general surgeon. The pair tied the knot in 1996. Together, they have two daughters: Talia and Leila.
Jackson is related by marriage to former Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who only had praise for her nomination; he described her intelligence, character, and integrity as “unequivocal.”
Jackson’s Legal Experience as an Attorney
Although Jackson would eventually work as a public defender, her first job was in private practice for two years in Boston. She left this position to work as assistant special counsel at the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 2003 to 2005.
The following two years would be spent as a public defender in Washington, D.C. Some of her cases involved detainees from Guantanamo Bay, including Khi Ali Gul, who was alleged to have participated in an attack on U.S. forces at Forward Operating Base Salerno.
Between 2007 and 2010, Ketanji Jackson was a part of a private practice. In 2009, she was nominated to a vice chair position at the U.S. Sentencing Commission by then-President Barack Obama. In 2012, President Obama would nominate her to the U.S. District Court for the District Columbia. She served here between 2013 and 2021, when she was appointed for a slot on the U.S. Court of Appeals. She replaced Merrick Garland, who was chosen by President Biden as the United States Attorney General.
Jackson was a part of the appellate court who heard a case regarding President Donald Trump in 2019. Jackson ruled that former White House counsel Don McGahn had to testify before Congress. She said in her written ruling, “Presidents are not kings.”
Jackson has an impeccable record, the utmost in academic achievement, and has been confirmed by the Senate at least twice before, which is a testament to her personal character. However, some DC lawmakers, such as Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) have expressed concern regarding Jackson’s stance on criminal justice reform. The dates for her confirmation hearings have yet to be announced.