Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson to US Supreme Court

US President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the 116th Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Image courtesy of Wikicago.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Image courtesy of Wikicago.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will, once confirmed, replace Justice Stephen Breyer who is set to retire this summer at the end of the court’s current session.

Jackson was born in Washington, DC and grew up in Miami, Florida. Her parents attended segregated primary schools, then attended historically black colleges and universities. Both started their careers as public school teachers and became leaders and administrators in the Miami-Dade Public School System. When Judge Jackson was in preschool, her father attended law school. In a 2017 lecture, Judge Jackson traced her love of the law back to sitting next to her father in their apartment as he tackled his law school homework—reading cases and preparing for Socratic questioning—while she undertook her preschool homework—colouring books.

Judge Jackson stood out as a high achiever throughout her childhood. She was a speech and debate star who was elected “mayor” of Palmetto Junior High and student body president of Miami Palmetto Senior High School. When Judge Jackson told her high school guidance counsellor she wanted to attend Harvard, the guidance counsellor warned that Judge Jackson should not set her “sights so high.” — that did not stop Judge Jackson and she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, then attended Harvard Law School, where she graduated cum laude. She was also an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Judge Jackson was one of Biden’s first judicial nominees upon becoming pPresident. She was confirmed with bipartisan support to the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2021.

President Obama had nominated Judge Jackson to be a district court judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia in 2012. She was confirmed with bipartisan support in 2013.

President Obama had previously nominated Judge Jackson to serve as the Vice Chair of the US Sentencing Commission in 2009, and she was confirmed with bipartisan support in 2010. Prior to serving as a judge, Judge Jackson followed in the footsteps of her mentor Justice Breyer, who she will now be replacing, by working on the US Sentencing Commission. The Commission, which President Biden fought to create as a member of the US Senate, is bipartisan by design. Her work there focused on reducing unwarranted sentencing disparities and ensuring that federal sentences were just and proportionate.

Judge Jackson has represented defendants who did not have the means to pay for a lawyer. She would be the first former federal public defender to serve on the Supreme Court.

Judge Jackson served as Justice Breyer’s law clerk, and learned up close how important it is for a Supreme Court Justice to build consensus and speak to a mainstream understanding of the Constitution.

Judge Jackson lives with her husband, Patrick, and their two daughters, in Washington, DC.

According to the Whitehouse, President Biden conducted a rigorous process to identify Justice Breyer’s replacement — as the longtime Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden took seriously the Constitution’s requirement that he make this appointment “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate,” seeking the advice of Senators in both parties.

According to the Whitehouse, Biden sought a candidate with exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law. The vetting process also sought a nominee—much like Justice Stephen Breyer—who is wise, pragmatic, and has a deep understanding of the Constitution as an enduring charter of liberty, the Whitehouse said going on to outline that the President also sought an individual who is committed to equal justice under the law who understands the profound impact that the Supreme Court’s decisions can have on the lives of the American people.

Now that Biden has named his nominee, he will next seek the Senate’s consent to confirm Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court.

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