A Historic Milestone for the Highest Court


“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 21 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)” https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/ketanji-brown-jackson-senate-confirmation-vote/index.html

Catherine Ryan ’24

 On April 7, 2022, Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the Senate to become the first African American woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. In a speech at the White House, Jackson celebrated saying, “It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, but we’ve made it! We’ve made it – all of us.” Jackson then quoted poet Maya Angelou: “I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” She reminded the crowd that in her family, “it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.” In her remarks, Jackson also said, “I have dedicated my career to public service because I love this country and our Constitution and the rights that make us free.” 

 Jackson is originally from Washington, D.C., but she went to Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Florida. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard, where she was editor of the Harvard Law Review. After law school, she clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer. Jackson then served as a public defender, representing people unable to pay for their own attorney. During that time, she represented Guantanamo Bay detainee Khoi Ali Gul, a case she was attacked for by Republicans during her confirmation process. She also worked at Morrison & Foerster LLP, and served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission. In 2013, after being nominated by President Barack Obama, she became a district court judge in D.C. and was later nominated by President Joe Biden for the U.S. Court of Appeals, which she joined in 2021. 

 The vote in the Senate was 53-47, with three Republicans voting in her favor. Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) said Jackson “will bring to the Supreme Court a range of experience from the courtroom that few can match given her background in litigation.” Murkowski indicated that her vote for Jackson was a “rejection of the corrosive [politicization]” that surrounds the confirmation process. The two other Republicans voting for Jackson were Senators Susan Collins (Maine) and Mitt Romney (Utah). 

 After the Senate vote, Biden tweeted: “Judge Jackson’s confirmation was a historic moment for our nation. We’ve taken another step toward making our highest court reflect the diversity of America. She will be an incredible Justice, and I was honored to share this moment with her.”

 Jackson will join the court after Breyer steps down in June. The court currently tilts in favor of conservatives and replacing Breyer with Jackson will not change that balance. 


Works Cited: 


Breuninger, Kevin. “Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson to Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to serve as a justice.” CNBC. 7 Apr 2022. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/07/ketanji-brown-jackson-confirmed-to-supreme-court-first-black-woman-justice.html 


“Ketanji Brown Jackson: US Senate votes to confirm judge to top court.” BBC News. 7 Apr 2022. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-61026996 


McDaniel, Eric. “Jackson notes the progress she represents in her journey to the Supreme Court.” NPR. 8 April 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/04/08/1091459152/biden-harris-jackson-senate-historic-confirmation-vote 


Niedzwiadek, Nick. “Ketanji Brown Jackson: Who is She? Bio, facts, background and political views.” Politico. 23 Feb. 2022. https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/23/who-is-ketanji-brown-jackson-bio-facts-background-political-views-00010970