Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

 

The Dallas Examiner

 

Since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement last month, President Joe Biden has rigorously searched for candidates to fill the open position of associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Upholding his pledge to nominate an African American woman, he considered Ketanji Brown Jackson, a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; J. Michelle Childs, a U.S. District Court judge in South Carolina; and Leondra Kruger, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of California.

On Feb. 25, Biden announced Jackson as his nominee.

“Today, as we watch freedom and liberty under attack abroad, I’m here to fulfill my responsibilities under the Constitution to preserve freedom and liberty here in the United States of America,” Biden stated.

“And it’s my honor to introduce to the country a daughter of former public school teachers, a proven consensus builder, an accomplished lawyer, a distinguished jurist – one of the nation’s most – on one of the nation’s most prestigious courts.  My nominee for the United States Supreme Court is Judge Ketanji Jackson.”

As she accepted her nomination, she shared in her speech that she shared a birthday with Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman appointed as a federal judge, according to Howard University News Service.

“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,” Jackson explained.

“Judge Motley, for life and career, has been a true inspiration to me as I have pursued this professional path. And if I’m 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.”

Leaders and organizations across the country celebrated the historic nomination, stating it wrote a new chapter in the history of Black women in America and in our democracy.

“Two years ago, on Feb. 25, 2020, presidential candidate Joe Biden made a campaign promise. He said, ‘I’m looking forward to making sure there’s a Black woman on the Supreme Court, to make sure we in fact get every representation.’ Today, President Biden kept his promise,” said Holli Holiday, president of Sisters Lead, Sisters Vote.

As the longtime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the president said he took the Constitution’s requirement seriously, sought the advice of senators in both parties, consulted with leading legal scholars, consulted legal experts, studied the histories and case records of candidates and met with candidates.

He also said that he was fortunate to have the advice of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Biden stated he looked for someone who had the following:

  • A pragmatic understanding that the law must work for the American people – much like Breyer.
  • The historical perspective to understand that the Constitution is a resilient charter of liberty.
  • The wisdom to appreciate that the Constitution protects certain inalienable rights — rights that fall within the most fundamental personal freedoms that our society recognizes.
  • Extraordinary character.
  • The courage to stand up for what she thinks is right.
  • Would bring an independent mind, uncompromising integrity and a strong moral compass to the Supreme Court.

“I’m pleased to introduce to the American people a candidate who continues in this great tradition,” Biden announced.

A former clerk for Breyer, Jackson has broad experience across the legal profession – as a federal appellate judge, a federal district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an attorney in private practice, and as a federal public defender. Judge Jackson has been confirmed by the Senate with votes from Republicans as well as Democrats three times, according to Biden.

The White House described Jackson as an exceptionally qualified nominee as well as a historic nominee and said the Senate should move forward with a fair and timely hearing and confirmation.

“It is with great joy and excitement that we greet the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Jackson has a deep and demonstrated commitment to civil rights.  On the federal bench, she has shown her commitment to upholding laws that protect people with disabilities, workers, immigrants and freedom of speech,” expressed Ben Jealous, president of People For the American Way. “As a former public defender, she brings to the Supreme Court the perspective of someone who has seen the justice system through the eyes of our society’s most vulnerable. Her lived experience as a Black woman enriches her perspective about day-to-day life in the United States and how the legal system affects people’s rights and lives and is greatly needed on our highest court. This is a defining and long overdue moment for our country, and we urge the Senate to move swiftly to confirm this outstanding nominee.”

Members of the NAACP stated that the country had been in need of Black women at every level of the judiciary, especially on the highest court of the land.

“President Biden has met this moment with an extraordinarily qualified nominee, who has stellar credentials and an impeccable background,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies was quick to applaud Biden’s announcement and urged the Senate to confirm Jackson.

“President Biden made an outstanding choice in nominating Judge Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center. “Her experiences clerking for Justice Breyer at the U.S. Supreme Court, practicing law, and serving as a federal judge at both the district and appellate levels give her deep insights into the federal judiciary. Judge Jackson’s brilliance, her strong work ethic, and her experiences building consensus while serving on multi-member institutions, like the U.S. Sentencing Commission, empower her to be an effective and influential justice. The Supreme Court would be more insightful, more just, and better equipped to ensure ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ for all Americans with Ketanji Brown Jackson as a justice. We urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly confirm Judge Jackson.”

Justices nominated by Democratic presidents have routinely endured arduous confirmation hearings. Many organizations representing millions of women across America have vowed to leverage their collective power to support Jackson throughout the process.

“Today, as we close out Black History Month, we thank President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for keeping their campaign commitment by nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as the first Black woman U.S. Supreme Court Justice. The NCBCP Black Women’s Roundtable is working in coalition with our allies to ensure that this nominee is treated fairly and is confirmed without delay,” said Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, convener of Black Women’s Roundtable.

Brandi Colander, April Reign, Kim Tignor & Sabriya I. Williams of She Will Rise expressed being thrilled to see the president honor his commitment to create a more representative Supreme Court. They said they believe Jackson was qualified and ready to serve. And said they stand ready to support a respectful confirmation process as we watch her rise.

“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is an exceptionally qualified jurist who will bring to the Supreme Court her expertise and commitment to the Constitution and values of our democracy. Most importantly, Judge Jackson will bring to the Supreme Court what it has lacked for 233 years – the lived experience of a Black woman,” said Jotaka Eaddy, convenor of #WinWithBlackWomen. “With this nomination President Biden and Vice President Harris will once again elevate a woman, and in this case a Black woman, to a position that has long been covered by a cement ceiling – today that ceiling is shattered into a million pieces.”

Becky Pringle, president of National Education Association, said it was long past time for the nation’s first Black woman Supreme Court Justice. Moreover, she also said Jackson was brilliant, just and highly qualified.

“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson reflects the very best of the legal profession and the very best of America. The daughter of public-school teachers, a public high school graduate as well as a top law school graduate from Harvard Law School, Judge Brown Jackson has decades of judicial and public service experience, including eight years as a Judge on the D.C. District Court and over a year on the D.C. Circuit Court, the most powerful appellate court in the country,” Pringle said.

“Diversity on the federal bench isn’t a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a necessity. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will bring a new, much-needed perspective to the Supreme Court. I have no doubt Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will live up to the legacies of Justices Thurgood Marshall and Sandra Day O’Connor and bring us closer to the promise of equal justice for all.”

Mollie Finch Belt is the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of The Dallas Examiner. She attended elementary school in Tuskegee, Ala.; Cambridge, Mass.; and Dallas, Texas. In 1961, she graduated from...

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