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Ketanji Brown Jackson: Interesting Things About President Biden's Supreme Court Nominee

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes articles that are interesting to her readers.

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On Friday, February 25, 2022, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the 116th Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The announcement of the nomination came on the exact date a year ago when President Biden promised to nominate a Black female because the Supreme Court does not look like America.

Now that President Biden has named Judge Jackson as his nominee, what happens next?

The President is seeking the Senate’s consent to confirm Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court by Easter, just a couple of months before Justice Stephen G. Breyer retires at the end of the court's term in June 2022.

Jackson’s confirmation will take top priority in the Senate. The plan is for Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) to get the vote to install her to the Supreme Court in the upcoming weeks.

The White House prefers a bipartisan vote. However, Judge Jackson can still be confirmed without a single Republican vote because the Democrats have fifty seats in the Senate. Added insurance is that Vice-President Kamala Harris has the authority to cast the deciding vote if there is a tie.

Why Was Judge Jackson Selected?

Even though the nomination process began soon after Justice Breyer announced his upcoming retirement, President Biden did not make his decision until after he and his office conducted a rigorous process to fill the seat Justice Breyer has had for 27 years.

So, why was Kejanti Brown Jackson nominated over other top contenders?

Over the last four weeks, the White House and President Biden made careful reviews of the background, credentials, and case records of all the candidates and consulted legal experts for advice. Top White House administration aides questioned and received input from nearly 70 senators. Of course, it was Biden's ultimate confident decision to nominate Judge Jackson.

Judge Jackson has several things going for her that the others candidates don't have. She checked all the boxes with impressive credentials, exceptional character, and steadfast dedication to the law. It is worth noting that it is a large feather in her cap because right out of Harvard, Jackson served as a law clerk to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who was not only her boss but her mentor as well.

Biden wanted to replace Breyer with someone with similar views as Breyer. Jackson not only worked directly for and closely with him, but she also served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission as he did.

During her remarks after her nomination, Judge Jackson said if she is confirmed she will fill Justice Breyer's seat, but she could never fill his shoes.

Jackson with Justice Stephen Breyer

Jackson with Justice Stephen Breyer

Impressive Credentials

President Biden weighed his options very carefully for nominating the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. He was very impressed with her credentials.

At the time of her nomination, Judge Jackson serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She has served most of her public career as a U.S. Sentencing Commission lawyer and commissioner, a federal public defender, a federal trial court judge, and an appellate court judge.

The Senate has already confirmed her three times in the past on a bipartisan basis: twice as a federal judge and once to serve on the U.S. Sentencing Commission to follow in the footsteps of her mentor, Justice Breyer to reduce sentencing disparities and to ensure that federal sentences were just and proportionate.

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Judge Jackson's Firsts

If confirmed, Jackson, at the age of 51, would be the first Black woman to sit on the nation’s most powerful court in its nearly 233-year history. Upon confirmation, she will become the first former federal public defender to serve on the Supreme Court.

She and Justice Sonia Sotomayor would be the only two who had been trial court judges. She will be the third Black justice to follow Thurgood Marshall, appointed in 1967, and Clarence Thomas, appointed in 1991. Of the 115 justices over the years, 110 were men.

If confirmed Jackson will join females Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Amy Coney Barrett. This will be the first time four females will have positions on the high court at the same time. Sandra Day O'Connor retired in 2006, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020.

Even though there are several firsts associated with Judge Jackson, this is not the first time she has been considered to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

According to ABC News, her then 11-year-old daughter, Leila, wrote former President Barack Obama, asking him to consider her mom for the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Leila's handwritten note read, "She is determined, honest and never breaks a promise to anyone, even if there are other things she'd rather do. She can demonstrate commitment and is loyal and never brags." It might not have been because of Lelia's letter, but former President Barack Obama did interview Jackson for the Supreme Court in 2016.

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Personal Information

Ketanji Brown Jackson was born Ketanji Onyika Brown on September 14, 1970 in Washington, DC, and moved to Miami, Florida with her parents where they still live. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and then Harvard Law School where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Ketanji met her surgeon husband Patrick G. Jackson, 53, while they were at Harvard. They got married on October 12, 1996, after dating for six and a half years. The couple has two daughters together: Talia Aenzi, 21, and Leila Abeni, 17. During her remarks following President Biden's nomination, Judge Jackson told her two daughters that even if she is confirmed, her best title will always be "Mom."

By marriage, Jackson is in the family with former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. Her husband is the twin brother to Ryan's wife's sister. In other words, both Jackson and Ryan married into the same family.

Even though Judge Jackson is associated with the National Council of Jewish Women, she has not revealed anything about her religion. However, she did thank God, and she talked about her faith and grace of God upon her life at the beginning and throughout her speech. Upon confirmation, every detail of her life will become public knowledge.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Final Words

According to President Biden, Judge Jackson meets all of the necessary criteria to replace her mentor. She is an exceptionally qualified nominee. Therefore, he urges the Senate to move forward with a fair and timely confirmation for the vacant seat.

Judge Jackson's Remarks (Less then 7 minutes)

Birthday Trivia

During her remarks after the nomination, the new nominee mentioned the late Honorable Constance Baker Motley who has been a great inspiration to her. Motley was the first Black woman to be appointed a federal judge, and she was born on September 14. She was also a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall just as Jackson was a law clerk to Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

Speaking of September 14, my youngest sister mentioned that she shares a birthday with Judge Motley and Judge Jackson. My sister was also born on September 14.

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