Who Is Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden’s Nominee to Become the First Black Woman on the Supreme Court?

It seems President Joe Biden will follow through on his campaign promise of nominating a Black woman to become a Supreme Court justice: The New York Times reports that he has chosen Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, as his pick. After Senate approval, Brown Jackson would become the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice in the court’s 232-year history. 

“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 in a statement released on February 25, per Reuters. The statement also described Jackson as someone with “exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character and unwavering dedication to the rule of law,” adding that she “understands the profound impact that the Supreme Court’s decisions have on the lives of the American people.” 

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The nomination for Jackson comes after Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, announced his retirement in late January 2022, after 27 years on the court. Both Justice Breyer and Brown Jackson align politically as progressives, which would keep the court’s leanings still on the conservative end. Ahead of her history-making nomination, learn more about Brown Jackson.

Who is Ketanji Brown Jackson?

Brown Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., before moving to Miami as a child with her school-board-attorney father and principal mother, who both worked in the Miami-Dade school system. She attended Harvard University for both college and law school, where she was a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Currently, she serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a position that President Biden appointed her to and one that Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, previously served. She succeeded Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was nominated for Supreme Court Justice by President Barack Obama but not confirmed. Brown Jackson has worked in the legal system since the start of her career, serving as a law clerk for several judges, including Justice Stephen Breyer, before becoming a federal judge in 2013.

This is not the first time Brown Jackson has been rumored to be vetted for the Supreme Court seat. In 2016, President Obama was said to have had her on his shortlist before he ultimately chose Garland. 

What is the appointment process like?

With the attention of the Biden administration focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the appointment process is expected to take several additional weeks—which differs from the quick, four-week turnaround during the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett by former president Donald Trump.

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