The New Supreme Court Justice: Ketanji Brown Jackson

Leila Feldman, Staff Writer

On April 7th Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the United States Senate. Justice Jackson is the first black woman to become a supreme court justice, the third black person, and the sixth woman. 

After Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died in September of 2020, Former President Donald Trump pushed forward and elected Justice Amy Coney-Barrett. This swayed the supreme court vote from a 5-4 (Conservatives to Liberals) vote to a 6-3 vote. While many were outraged, others were pleased, and others simply didn’t care, but when Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced his plan to retire at the end of the summer, President Joe Biden was presented with an opportunity to elect another Supreme Court justice. 

In February 2020 at a Democratic Primary debate, Biden promised tomake[e] sure there’s a Black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure we in fact get everyone represented.”So, when Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement, Biden nominated three separate women for the job. Out of the three, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson came out on top. 

Justice Jackson was educated at both Harvard undergrad and Law school. While at Harvard undergrad, she led protests, one being against a student who had a confederate flag in his dorm bedroom. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard and then worked for Time Magazine before eventually returning to her Alma Mater for Law school. While in Law school, she worked as the Supervising Editor of the Harvard Law Review. 

She then worked both in private practice and clerking for the Supreme Court (ironically enough for Justice Breyer). She worked on the Federal Bench and served as a public defender too. The Washington Post wrote that “she won uncommon victories against the government that shortened or erased lengthy prison terms.”

Following Biden’s nomination, Justice Ketanji Brown went through a lengthy confirmation process, during which senators questioned her extensively. According to the New York Times there were a series of different issues brought up such as “critical race theory, children’s books, the definition of the word ‘woman’: Over the last week, Republican senators pressed Jackson on hot-button cultural issues that seemed to fall far outside the realm of the Supreme Court.” 97 U.S Senators questioned Jackson in her hearing and after over 20 hours in the course of two days, Jackson was confirmed in a 53-47 vote by the Senate. All 50 Democrats voted for her as well as Republican senators: Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). This gave her enough votes to be confirmed. 

On Thursday April 7, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the vote to the United States people. When the verdict was announced, Biden exclaimed “All right!” and shortly after the two embraced with big smiles. 

Biden posted to his Twitter a selfie of the two of them in front of the TV and later tweeted “Judge Jackson’s confirmation was a historic moment for our nation. We’ve taken another step toward making our highest court reflect the diversity of America. She will be an incredible Justice, and I was honored to share this moment with her.”