Ketanji Brown Jackson: What to Know About Biden’s Supreme Court Nominee
On Friday morning, Ketanji Brown Jackson made history by becoming the first Black woman ever nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court!
President Biden announced Jackson’s nomination on social media. He will formally introduce his nominee later in the day, People magazine reports.
Biden tweeted, “I’m proud to announce that I am nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court. Currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, she is one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice.”
When news broke the nomination, Jackson was in the middle of a federal court hearing.
If confirmed, Jackson will replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement last month.
In January, Biden made it known that he would nominate “someone with extraordinary qualifications, character experience, and integrity.” He added, “And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It's long overdue, in my view. I made that commitment during my campaign for president, and I will keep that commitment.”
A White House official explained why Jackson fit the bill, calling her “one of our nation's brightest legal minds.”
During her career, Jackson clerked for Breyer himself during his 1999 term. According to SCOTUS Blog, Breyer complimented her “common sense,” “thoughtfulness,” and described her as “brilliant.”
She also served as a federal public defender before becoming a judge in 2013. The nomination would make her the first public defender to ascend to the court.
In 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Jackson to serve as a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to replace Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. [Republican House Speaker] Paul Ryan even testified on her behalf at a nomination hearing, saying, “Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji's intellect, for her character, for her integrity, is unequivocal. She is an amazing person, and I favorably recommend her consideration.”
Jackson is “related by marriage to House Speaker Paul Ryan” since her husband Patrick’s brother William is married to Ryan’s sister Dana.
In 2019, she ruled against former President Donald Trump’s first White House counsel Don McGahn, requiring him to obey a congressional subpoena.
When Department of Justice lawyers argued that McGahn could not be forced to testify since he was a close advisor to Trump, she said, “absolute immunity from compelled congressional process simply does not exist.”
She emphasized, “Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings... Compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and per the Constitution, no one is above the law. That is to say, however busy or essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him or her from taking an action that the law requires.”
After eight years as a federal trial judge, she was then confirmed as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year. At her confirmation hearing for the appellate court, she said, “I come from a background of public service. My parents were in public service, my brother was a police officer and (was) in the military, and being in the public defenders' office felt very much like the opportunity to help with my skills and talents."
Her parents for public school teachers, who became a lawyer and a school principal.
Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., but was raised in Miami. She graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School, which is the same school that was attended by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, NBA basketball star Tim Hardaway Jr., and Olympic speedskating medalist Jennifer Rodriguez.
In 1996, she got her law degree from Harvard Law School. That same year, she married surgeon Patrick G. Jackson, who also graduated from Harvard. The couple has two daughters.
According to NPR, she said in 2017, “Patrick is a quintessential ‘Boston Brahmin’ — his family can be traced back to England before the Mayflower. He and his twin brother are, in fact, the sixth generation in their family to graduate from Harvard College. By contrast, I am only the second generation in my family to go to any college, and I am fairly certain that if you traced my family lineage back past my grandparents — who were raised in Georgia, by the way — you would find that my ancestors were slaves on both sides.”