Kentanji Brown Jackson makes history on Supreme Court


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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson appears in her judicial robe.

Holly Lowe, Staff Writer

On Feb. 25, Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson was nominated by President Joe Biden to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. She is the first black woman that has ever been nominated and will serve on the nation’s highest court.

The Virginia-born former federal judge began her journey with a dream to receive a judicial appointment. Jackson, who grew up in Miami, moved to Boston, with her dream in mind, to attend the prestigious Harvard Law School.

After completing her law degree, she was the clerk for two federal judges. From 1999 to 2000, Jackson had a Supreme Court clerkship under Justice Stephen Breyer during his term. In 2003, she worked with the bipartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission, and from 2005 to 2007, Jackson had the job of assistant federal public defender.

In 2010, Jackson returned to a private practice where she was soon chosen to serve as Vice-Chair of the U.S. sentencing commission. During her service, she earned the reputation of being a consensus builder who constructed the sentencing policy of overpopulated federal prisons. Also, under her leadership, the commission agreed unanimously that the federal drug sentences should be lowered.

In 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Jackson for the U.S. District Court, where she was confirmed in March 2013. After nine years, she made her way to be a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

During her time on this court, one of Jackson’s most publicized cases was the 2019 ruling that the White House counsel of former President Donald Trump could not be exempt from a congressional subpoena. 

Jackson was confirmed with a vote of only 53-47. The most controversy came from the Republican party. In fact, multiple Republican senators walked out the chamber after the final vote was cast during a standing ovation because of the historic significance of this event.

After being tapped by President Biden, the road to the Supreme Court was not entirely clear. Many senators, during Judge Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, attempted to paint Jackson as a radical liberal. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-MS) asked the judge, “Can you provide a definition of the word ‘woman’?” While Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) brought a copy of Ibram X. Kendi’s book Antiracist Baby and asked the judge, “Do you agree…that babies are racist?”

Despite contentious hearings, Judge Jackson was confirmed to the United States Supreme Court on April 7, 2022, by a 53-47 vote. She is the first Black woman to hold this position. 

“In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Jackson said.