Ketanji Brown Jackson: Making Supreme Court history

Sarah Shay, Entertainment Editor

During a Democratic presidential debate in 2020, then-candidate Joe Biden made an unexpected promise: if he was elected, he would nominate the first Black woman as a supreme court justice.

Biden finally had the chance to fulfill his pledge after 83 year old Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement at the end of the term in October. President Biden’s nominee is 51 year old Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is currently serving as a federal judge for the District of Columbia circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

In addition to being the first Black woman if confirmed by the senate, Jackson would also become the first former public defender to serve on the Supreme Court, which gives her a unique perspective on carrying out the law.

Government teacher Lisa Fike noted the benefits of such a qualified candidate, saying, “As a Harvard law
school graduate and a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has the traditional pedigree of an eminently qualified Supreme Court Justice.”

“As a black women and a former defense attorney, she will add a diversity of perspective and experience long missing on the Supreme Court. I’m excited to see how that experience shapes and adds to the Supreme Court’s discussion of the important issues before it.”

Biden seeks to maintain the current makeup of the supreme court by appointing a judge similar in ideology to Justice Breyer. The supreme court currently has a 6-3 conservative majority, and a relatively young judge such as Jackson would at least ensure a liberal justice will remain on the court for many years to come.

Biden was known to hold respect for Breyer, and seems to have selected a judge who will hold his views. Justice Breyer promoted unity with his fellow justices, and was staunchly apolitical, despite generally making liberal decisions.

Jackson served as a supreme court clerk under Justice Breyer, which further establishes the connection between the nominee and the retiring justice. It is certainly a strong choice, to bring a new and much-needed level of diversity to the Supreme Court, and appoint a judge who has experience on almost every level of the judicial system. But is that enough?

As it turns out, Jackson may be exactly what the court, and America needs at this point. She was elected to the Court of Appeals in a somewhat bipartisan vote, hopefully foreshadowing her nomination may not be as contentious as other political decisions have been lately.

She shows a willingness to stand up for her views of justice and fairness, rather than prioritizing compromise as Breyer has in the past. If she is confirmed, Ketanji Brown Jackson may be the part of an ideological minority, but she
will have the ability to make a lasting difference in the rulings of the Supreme Court.