United States President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the supreme court, setting in motion a historic confirmation process for the first Black woman to sit on the highest court in the nation.

Ketanji Brown Jackson

The White House

“Today, as we watch freedom and liberty under attack abroad, I’m here to fulfill my responsibilities under the Constitution, to preserve freedom and liberty here in the United States of America,” Biden said at the White House.

“For too long, our government, our courts haven’t looked like America,” Biden said. “I believe it’s time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications, and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.”

51-year-old Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson currently sits on DC’s federal appellate court and has been considered the front-runner for the supreme court vacancy since Justice Stephen Breyer announced he would be retiring.

While this is a historic moment, the choice of appointing Jackson will not change the ideological makeup of the court. Currently, there are six conservative justices, and three liberal justices and Jackson is taking over in a liberal position that had retired.

President Biden had been familiarizing himself with Jackson’s work, reading many of her writings. Biden was impressed by her work and by her life story, including her rise from federal public defender to federal appellate judge and her upbringing, being the daughter to two public school teachers.

Jackson was born in Washington but grew up in the Miami area. She was a member of the debate team at her High School before earning both her undergraduate degree and a law degree at Harvard. Previously she clerked for Justice Breyer and served as a federal public defender in Washington. She was also a commissioner on the US Sentencing Commission and served on the federal district court in DC, as an appointee of President Barack Obama, before Biden elevated her to the DC Circuit last year.

Ketanji Brown Jackson Being Sworn In

News Week

“Her opinions are always carefully reasoned, tethered to precedent and demonstrate respect for how the law impacts everyday people,” Biden said. “It doesn’t mean she puts her thumb on the scale of justice one way or the other. But she understands the broader impacts of her decisions, whether it’s cases addressing the rights of workers or government service. She cares about making sure that our democracy works for the American people. She listens. She looks people in the eye — lawyers, defendants victims and families — and she strives to ensure that everyone understands why she made a decision, what the law is, and what it means to them. She strives to be fair, to get it right, to do justice. That’s something all of us should remember. And it’s something I’ve thought about throughout this process.”

Eyes will now turn to the Senate where the President will hope that Jackson can garner bipartisan support. Democrats will need all their members in Washington to ensure her confirmation.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has stated that he wants to push a nominee through the process quickly, using Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate proceedings as a model for Jackson’s confirmation timeline. The goal of the leadership is to have the nominee confirmed by the April 11 recess.

Jackson is set to have her courtesy meetings with senators next week. It is common for Supreme Court nominees to meet with the leadership on both sides and then members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Though there are currently no Black women serving in the United States Senate in a position to vote for the nominee, Black female House members, all Democrats, applauded Biden for “fulfilling his campaign promise.”

Published by HOLR Magazine.