On January 27th, 2022, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a letter to Joe Biden, stating that he would be stepping down from his position either in June or July, which would leave his spot open to Biden’s nomination. With this, people waited to see if Biden would follow through on his promise to nominate a Black woman, who would, if appointed, be the first Black woman to serve on the court. Keeping his word, on February 25th, 2022, Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Currently on the court are: Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., who was nominated under George W. Bush; Clarence Thomas, who was nominated by George Bush; Stephen Breyer, nominated by Bill Clinton; Samuel Alito, nominated by George W. Bush; Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who were nominated by Barack Obama; and Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, who were nominated by Donald Trump. Although the justices do not technically hold a political standpoint, with the addition of recent justices Kavanaugh and Barrett, the current Supreme Court is considered to have a conservative majority. If appointed to the court, it is thought that Judge Jackson will somewhat balance out the political scale, though not enough to cause a Democratic shift.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was born on September 14th, 1970, and grew up in Miami, Florida. She was known as a high-achieving student in school, and went on to Harvard, where she graduated magna cum laude. She continued into Harvard Law School, and graduated cum laude. Judge Jackson possesses a substantial legal history; before her Supreme Court nomination, she served as a district judge for the District of Columbia from 2013-2021, the vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission from 2010-2014, a member of the Harvard Board of overseers, and as a member of the Council of the American Law Institute. She also worked as a public defender, granting her popularity with left-leaning organizations.
Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearings will start in mid-March and, if all goes according to plan, she will be confirmed by mid-April. However, there are some trials that Judge Jackson may face during the process of confirmation. For one, many people are against the nomination, such as Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who called it discriminatory for Biden to promise to nominate a Black woman. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell initially questioned her qualifications, but later stated that he does not find Biden’s promise to be inappropriate, noting that Trump had promised similarly to nominate a female judge with Amy Coney Barrett. However, since Vice President Kamala Harris will be acting as the tiebreaker, Democrats could pass Judge Jackson’s confirmation without help from Republicans. Moreover, her confirmation may also be delayed due to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war. The war has left much of the White House completely preoccupied, overshadowing the news of her nomination.
Judge Jackson’s potential to become the first Black woman to serve on the court holds deep significance, as many have pointed out that, in all of the Supreme Court’s 115 justices, there has never been a Black woman. President Biden, in support of his nomination, has stated: “For too long, our government, our courts, haven’t looked like America.”