After Consultation With Leading Legal Scholars And Lawyers, Jackson Brown Becomes The First Black Woman To Serve On The High Court
President Joe Biden has Nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson To U.S. Supreme Court during an event in the Cross Hall of the White House February 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. Pending confirmation, Judge Brown Jackson would succeed retiring Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and become the first-ever Black woman to serve on the high court.
During the event, President Joe Biden introduced to the United States, a daughter of former public school teachers, a proven consensus builder, an accomplished lawyer, a distinguished jurist — and one of the country’s most prestigious courts, Judge Ketanji Jackson.
Ketanji Jackson replaces Justice Stephen Breyer who announced his retirement from the position. Therefore, President Biden conducted a rigorous process to identify his replacement. He sought a candidate with exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law.
President Biden also sought a nominee—much like Justice Breyer—who is wise, pragmatic, and has a deep understanding of the Constitution as an enduring charter of liberty. He wanted an individual who is committed to equal justice under the law and who understands the profound impact that the Supreme Court’s decisions have on the lives of the American people.
Eventually, Judge Ketanji was the chosen one. She was confirmed by the Senate with votes from Republicans as well as Democrats three times.
Judge Ketanji Jackson Brown:
Judge Jackson has devoted the majority of her career to serving the public—as a U.S. Sentencing Commission lawyer and commissioner; as a federal public defender; and as a federal judge. Judge Jackson currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
From 2013 to 2021, she served as a United States District Judge for the District of Columbia. She had been confirmed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis three times – twice as judge and once to serve on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Judge Jackson was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Miami, Florida. Her parents attended segregated primary schools in the South, then attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Both started their careers as public school teachers and became leaders and administrators in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Her Dad, a teacher, who later went back to school and became a lawyer representing that very school district — that school board.
Judge Jackson describes finding her love for the law from an apartment complex at the University of Miami where her dad was attending law school. She’d draw in her coloring book at the dining room table, next to her dad’s law books.
She grew up to be a star student — elected mayor of her junior high school and president of her high school class, where she was a standout — she was a standout on the speech and debate team.
And it was after a debate tournament that took place at Harvard when she was in high school that she believed she could one day be a student there. There were those who told her she shouldn’t set her sights too high, but she refused to accept limits others set for her.
She proceeded to Harvard undergraduate school, where she graduated with a degree. She went into — to attend Harvard Law School, where she was a top student and editor of the prestigious Law Review.
Then she applied for a highly competitive and coveted clerkship on the United States Supreme Court, and she was selected.
When Judge Jackson told her high school guidance counselor she wanted to attended Harvard, the guidance counselor warned that Judge Jackson should not to set her sights “so high.” That didn’t stop Judge Jackson. She graduated from Harvard College, then attended Harvard Law School, where she graduated cum laude and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.
After law school, Judge Jackson served in Justice Breyer’s chambers as a law clerk. Judge Jackson served as a federal public defender from 2005 to 2007, representing defendants on appeal who did not have the means to pay for a lawyer. If confirmed, she would be the first former federal public defender to serve on the Supreme Court.
Prior to serving as a judge, Judge Jackson followed in the footsteps of her mentor Justice Breyer by working on the U.S. Sentencing Commission—an important body, bipartisan by design, that President Biden fought to create as a member of the U.S. Senate. Her work there focused on reducing unwarranted sentencing disparities and ensuring that federal sentences were just and proportionate.
And once again following in the footsteps of her mentor, Justice Breyer, Judge Jackson is the only member of the Court who previously served as a member of the United States Sentencing Commission.
Judge Jackson lives with her husband, Patrick, who serves as Chief of the Division of General Surgery at Georgetown University Hospital, and two daughters, in Washington, D.C.
Interestingly, Judge Jackson has already been confirmed by the United States Senate three times.
First, to serve on the U.S. Sentencing Commission — a bipartisan, independent commission we help — I helped design to reduce the unwarranted disparities in sentencing and promote transparency and fairness in the criminal justice system.
On the commission, Judge Jackson was known for working with Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on critical issues.
She was also confirmed by the United States Senate with bipartisan support on the federal district court to administer justice with the special rigors and fairness that come with presiding over trials.
Judge Ketanji Jackson was again confirmed with a bipartisan Senate vote to serve on U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, considered the second most powerful court behind the Supreme Court itself and the court she once argued cases before as a distinguished advocate.
According to President Biden, it’s time the U.S have a Court that reflects the full talents and greatness of the country with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications, who will inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.
More About Ketanji Brown, and Her Thanksgiving Speech:
Judge Jackson is a working mom. She had her eldest child, Talia, when she was a private lawyer in practice. She had her second child, Leila, when she served as U- — on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Thank you very much, Mr. President. I am truly humbled by the extraordinary honor of this nomination. And I am especially grateful for the care that you have taken in discharging your constitutional duty in service of our democracy with all that is going on in the world today.
I also offer my sincerest thanks to you as well, Madam Vice President, for your invaluable role in this nomination process.
I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking God for delivering me to this point in my professional journey. My life has been blessed beyond measure, and I do know that one can only come this far by faith.
Among my many blessings — and indeed, the very first — is the fact that I was born in this great country. The United States of America is the greatest beacon of hope and democracy the world has ever known.
I was also blessed from my early days to have had a supportive and loving family. My mother and father, who have been married for 54 years, are at their home in Florida right now, and I know that they could not be more proud.
It was my father who started me on this path. When I was a child, as the President mentioned, my father made the fateful decision to trans- — to transition from his job as a public high school history teacher 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 role model.
My mother, who was also a public high school teacher, provided invaluable support in those early days, working full-time to enable my father’s career transition while also guiding and inspiring four-year-old me.
My only sibling — my brother, Ketajh — came along half a decade later, and I am so proud of all that he’s accomplished. After graduating from Howard University, he became a police officer and a detective on some of the toughest streets in the inner city of Baltimore. After that, he enlisted in the Army, serving two tours of duty in the Middle East. I believe that he was following the example set by my uncles who are in law enforcement.
You may have read that I have one uncle who got caught up in the drug trade and received a life sentence. That is true, but law enforcement also runs in my family. In addition to my brother, I had two uncles who served decades as police officers, one of whom became the police chief in my hometown of Miami, Florida.
I am standing here today by the grace of God as testament to the love and support that I’ve received from my family.
I have also been blessed with many dear friends, colleagues, mentors, law clerks. I could not possibly name all of the people to whom I owe great thanks. But I must mention specifically the three brilliant jurists for whom I had the privilege of serving as a law clerk at the outset of my legal career: U.S. District Judge Patti Saris in Massachusetts, U.S. Court of Appeals Bruce — Judge Bruce Selya in Rhode Island, and last but certainly not least, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Justice Breyer, in particular, not only gave me the greatest job that any young lawyer could ever hope to have, but he also exemplified every day in every way that a Supreme Court Justice can perform at the highest level of skill and integrity while also being guided by civility, grace, pragmatism, and generosity of spirit.
To my dear family, those who are here with me now and those who are watching from home, I am forever indebted to you for your love and support.
To my beloved husband, Patrick, thank you for being my rock today and every day for these past 26 years. I love you.
To my daughters, Talia and Leila, you are the light of my life. Please know that whatever title I may hold or whatever job I might — may have, I will still be your mom. That will never change.
There are so many other people I would love to be able to address and to thank, but time is short. So, let me end by sharing an interesting coincidence that has actually meant a great deal to me over the years.
As it happens, I share a birthday with the first Black woman ever to be appointed as a federal judge: the Honorable Constance Baker Motley. We were born exactly 49 years to the day apart.
Today, I proudly stand on Judge Motley’s shoulders, sharing not only her birthday but also her steadfast and courageous commitment to equal justice under law.
Judge Motley’s life and career has been a true inspiration to me as I have pursued this professional path. And if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded will inspire future generations of Americans.
Thank you again, Mr. President, for this extraordinary honor.