Update (6/30/22): Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn into the Supreme Court on Thursday, June 30, following Justice Stephen Breyer’s formal retirement. Breyer shared that his retirement would go into effect in a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday. Both he and Chief Justice John Roberts led the oaths for Jackson. She is the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.
Update (4/7/22): Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice after the final vote from the Senate on Thursday April 7. The final confirmation vote ended with a simple majority victory of 53-47 in favor of confirming Jackson. She’s expected to be sworn in when Justice Stephen Breyer retires towards the end of June, per CNN. Vice President Kamala Harris announced the confirmation to a huge applause shortly after the final vote was cast.
Update (4/4/22): Ketanji Brown Jackson is getting closer to being confirmed as a Supreme Court judge after two more GOP senators have announced their vote. Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski and Utah Senator Mitt Romney will both vote to confirm Kentaji as a judge. Both Republican senators join Susan Collins of Maine, making it likely that their vote plus support from Democratic senators will be enough for her to win the position.
Original: President Joe Biden, 79, has found his nomination for the Supreme Court in Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, and he’s expected to announce his pick on Friday February 25, via CNN. Ketanji’s nomination is historic for the nation’s highest court for a number of reasons, including that she’s the first Black woman to receive the nomination, and she’s Biden’s first nomination for the Supreme Court, after Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, announced his plans to retire. Find out more about Ketanji’s historic nomination and her career here!
1. Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first Black woman on the Supreme Court
If she’s confirmed by congress, Ketanji will be the first Black woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court. Biden had regularly said that his SCOTUS nomination would be a Black woman, shortly after Stephen Breyer announced that he’d be stepping down. She received the call from the president on Thursday night offering her the position, and she accepted, a source revealed to CNN.
2. She was a public defender and later appointed to the D.C. federal appellate court
Ketanji is extremely qualified for the position, and she’s worked in many different capacities of the law. Unlike many of her future colleagues on the Supreme Court, she was a public defender for many years, and her background is not as a prosecutor, according to NPR. She was a vice chairman for the U.S. Sentencing Commission and fought to lighten sentences for those convicted for crimes related to crack cocaine, which were much more severe than charges for powdered cocaine.
After a proven track record as a public defender, President Barack Obama nominated her for a district courtship in 2013 in Washington D.C. She was also considered for the Supreme Court after Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016. She continued to rise under Biden, who nominated her for the Court of Appeals in D.C. During her time as D.C. judge, Ketanji ruled against former President Donald Trump on a number of occasions, including attempts to block records related to the January 6 insurrection, and she unsuccessfully ruled against efforts to speed up deportations, per Politico.
3. She worked under Justice Stephen Breyer early in her career
It’s only fitting that Ketanji will be the replacement for Justice Stephen Breyer. After she finished law school, she had clerked for three federal judges, and one of them was Breyer. The retiring Justice must be excited that his former clerk will take over for him. When she was nominated for a judgeship in 2012, Breyer showed his support during a confirmation hearing with a glowing endorsement. He simply said, “Hire her,” per The New York Times.
4. She’s already garnered support from both Democrats and Republicans
While Ketanji still needs to undergo the confirmation process to be appointed to the Supreme Court, which can experience some push back from across the aisle, a few Republicans had voted in favor of confirming her to the appellate court in 2021. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Susan Collins (Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) all voted to confirm her, and may do so again when she’s appointed to the Supreme Court, via Politico.
The nominee also has a family connection to another high profile Republican. Her husband Patrick Jackson’s twin brother is former Republican House Speaker (and vice presidential candidate) Paul Ryan‘s brother-in-law, and the former Wisconsin congressman testified in favor of Ketanji when she was nominated to become a judge.
5. She has two degrees from Harvard University
Despite being a Washington D.C. native, Ketanji has spent plenty of time in Massachusetts. She studied government as an undergrad student at Harvard and later received her law degree from the prestigious university. She met her husband, whom she has two daughters with, while they were both studying at Harvard, according to NPR. During her time at Harvard, it seems like she even explored a few fields outside of law, and she worked with future Academy Award winner Matt Damon in an acting class, as they teamed up for a scene, per Politico.