Front Steps and Columns of the Supreme Court

Confirmation hearings have not yet been scheduled, though the president urged the senate to act swiftly.

President Joe Biden, who had vowed to nominate a Black woman to the U.S. Supreme court, tapped D.C. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, to replace the retiring 83-year-old justice Stephen Breyer. The president is said to have considered her as a possible contender for the role since Breyer announced his retirement. Per the White House, “Judge Jackson is one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and has an unusual breadth of experience in our legal system, giving her the perspective to be an exceptional Justice.”

Under President Trump, the number of conservative justices expanded in the Supreme Court with his appointment of judges Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Judge Jackson is President Biden’s first proposed appointee. As a justice, Judge Jackson would not change the overall liberal-to-conservative ratio, as Justice Breyer is among the left-leaning members.

Upon learning of the nomination, President Obama—who had appointed her as a district court judge during his presidency and had considered her as a replacement for Justice Scalia—tweeted, “Judge Jackson has already inspired young Black women like my daughters to set their sights higher, and her confirmation will help them believe they can be anything they want to be.”

A Harvard law graduate cum laude and former editor of the Harvard Law Review, Jackson served as a clerk for several judges, including the now-retiring Justice Breyer. She later worked in private practice, and served as a federal public defender, a district court judge, and under President Biden became a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit. She was also a member of the U.S. Sentencing Committee. If appointed, she will be the sixth woman, and the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. She would also be one of two SCOTUS justices (along with Sandra Sotomayor) to have served as a trial court judge. Judge Jackson has received bipartisan support in previous appointments.

Judge Jackson has ruled on several well-known cases, including several union-related disputes, the infamous “Pizzagate” shooting, and barring the federal government (then under President Trump) from expanding its power to rapidly deport undocumented immigrants without full proceedings in an immigration court.

Confirmation hearings have not yet been scheduled, though the president urged the senate to act swiftly. Regarding her nomination, responses have come from senators from both parties speaking in generally respectful but predictably partisan lines. Democrat Sen. Corey Booker referred to this as a “Jackie Robinson moment for our nation” while GOP senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said he was “troubled by aspects of her record, including her record on crime and criminal justice.” Senator Lindsey Graham, who had voted in Jackson’s favor in an earlier appointment, called her nomination a victory for “the radical left.” Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican who is related to Judge Jackson by marriage, praised her intellect and character, while acknowledging that their politics differ.

Judge Jackson lives in Washington, D.C., with her two daughters and her husband, a doctor who specializes in abdominal surgery.

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