Ketanji Brown Jackson makes Supreme Court history

Justice Jackson is the first black female justice on the Supreme Court. (Whitehouse.gov/Public Domain)

On April 7, 2022, the United States Senate voted 53 to 47 to confirm Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as the 116th Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The 51-year-old is the first African-American woman and only the sixth woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

Justice Jackson will join fellow female Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Barrett. This is the first time that four women will sit on the Supreme Court simultaneously.

“Judge Jackson confirmation was a historical time for our nation. We took another step forward for our highest court to reflect the diversity from America. She will be a incredible Justice, and I was honored to share this moment with her,” President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter.

The daughter of two high school teachers, Jackson was born in Washington, DC and raised in Miami, Florida. She was only in kindergarten when her father decided to light switch career and go to law school. However, the live left a lasting impression on the girl.

She says: “It was my father who started me on this path when I was a child. My dad did the fateful decision of passage from her job as a history teacher at a public high school and go to law school. Some of my earliest memories are of him sitting at the kitchen table, reading his law books. I watched him study and he became my first professional model.”

Retired Judge Stephen Breyer with Judge Jackson. (Whitehouse.gov/Public Domain)

Judge Jackson was extremely popular with her peers at Miami Palmetto Senior High School and repeatedly elected class president. A brilliant student, she excelled in debates and speeches—activities that prepared her “for future success in law and in life.”

Like most women of color, Judge Jackson has had her share of opponents. When she expressed her dream of going to Harvard for her high school counseling to advise, she was warned not to aim “so high”. But that didn’t deter then 18, whose yearbook citation read, “I want to get into law and ultimately have a judicial appointment.”

She graduate from Harvard University in 1992 with a BA in Government, magna cum lauofand then earned his JD, cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1996. Her impressive legal career includes serving as law clerk to three federal judges appointed by the presidents of both political parties. Judge Jackson also worked as a federal public defender, representing defendants who could not afford to hire a private lawyer.

Before being appointed in the Supreme Court, Judge Jackson served on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit – the equivalent of a state supreme court. The DC Circuit Court is considered more powerful than the other 12 circuit courts. He treats highly sensitive and important issues such as national security, election law and air quality regulations.

At the April 8, 2022 ceremony at the White House celebrating her historic nomination, an emotional Justice Jackson said, “It took 232 years and 115 prior nominations for a black woman to be selected to serve on the United States Supreme Court. -United. But we did. We did – all of us. And our children tell me that they now see more than ever that here in America, anything is possible. They also tell me I’m a role model, which I take both as an opportunity and as a huge responsibility.”

Although confirmed, Judge Jackson will not take the bench immediately. She will be sworn in after Judge Stephen Breyer, whom she replaces, retires in June or early July.

Resources: CNN.com. Politico.com, AFJ., org

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