In a tweet from the White House on the morning of February 25, President Joe Biden announced his nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, who will step down at the completion of the court’s current term at the end of June.
“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,” the president wrote.
The president later held a press conference where he introduced Judge Jackson as his nominee.
Jackson, 51, is a native of Washington D.C. but grew up in Florida. Jackson graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School. After law school, she worked in the private sector and also did a stint as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C. She served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 2010 to 2014, before her appointment to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2013 by President Obama. She served on that court until 2021, when she was appointed to the DC Circuit Court by President Biden to replace Judge Merrick Garland, who the president selected as his Attorney General. Jackson was confirmed by the Senate in a 53-44 vote.
She also clerked for several federal judges, including Justice Breyer, whom she will be replacing.
The president’s nomination of Jackson fulfills a campaign promise of then-candidate Joe Biden in 2020 to nominate the first Black woman to the high court. His pledge won him the support and endorsement of Representative James Clyburn, the veteran Black Democrat from South Carolina, just days ahead of the Democrat primary in that state. Biden won that primary and went on to win a string of Democratic primaries leading up to his nomination for President.
Jackson will be the third African American to serve on the Supreme Court, following Thurgood Marshall, who served from 1967 to 1991, and Clarence Thomas, appointed in 1991 and who is still serving. She would be the sixth woman to serve on the high court.
Of course, everyone wants to know where the nominee stands on legal and constitutional issues of importance to Christians. Her record is murky in that regard, although her legal opinions from her years on the federal district court and her short time on the DC Circuit will undoubtedly be heavily scrutinized in the upcoming days and weeks.
Judge Jackson once served on the advisory school board of the now-defunct Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Maryland in 2010 and 2011, which espoused orthodox Christian beliefs about male and female, biblical sexuality, and the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. When questioned about her service on that board during her 2021 Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings related to her nomination to the DC Circuit, she distanced herself from those beliefs in response to questions from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. Jackson told Hawley that she did “not necessarily agree” with all of the statements on the many boards on which she has served.
Jackson is expected to be a consistent liberal vote on the high court, as was the justice she will be replacing.
The judge is married to surgeon Patrick Jackson, also a Harvard graduate. The couple have two daughters.
The president’s tweet also linked to a more detailed White House announcement containing effusive praise for his nominee.
“Since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement, President Biden has conducted a rigorous process to identify his replacement,” the announcement reads. “President Biden sought a candidate with exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law. And the President sought 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.”
“That is why the President nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as the next Justice on the Supreme Court. Judge Jackson is one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and has an unusual breadth of experience in our legal system, giving her the perspective to be an exceptional Justice.”
Photo from Reuters.