President Biden fulfills his campaign promise to select the nation’s first Black woman to become Supreme Court justice.
President Joe Biden will officially make history when he announces Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.
A source close to the White House confirmed Brown Jackson as Biden’s pick. The president is expected to make the announcement Friday.
Judge Brown Jackson, 51, currently sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She was confirmed in June 2021 by the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support. The vote was 55 to 44.
Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)
Republicans like Senator Lindsay Graham voted to confirm the judge who began her career in private practice in Washington, D.C. in 2002. In 2010, Brown Jackson served as the vice-chair and commissioner of the United States Sentencing Commission. During that same time, she also served as a federal trial court judge for eight years.
Brown Jackson comes from a family that is steeped in law enforcement with an uncle and brother in Miami and Baltimore police departments. However, her family life is not without some commonality with many Black families.
During Jackson’s early years in service as a public defender, she received a request from a distant uncle who was serving a life sentence on federal drug charges. She subsequently referred her uncle to a prominent Washington D.C. law firm that filed a petition for clemency for her uncle. Her uncle, Thomas Brown, was released at 78 years old in 2016 when then-President Barack Obama commuted the sentence after he spent over 25 years in prison.
Many of her decisions have been publicized and deliberated on during her prior confirmation hearings.
Brown Jackson was a part of the reported shortlist of potential candidates since President Biden took office in 2021. Other contenders included judges J. Michelle Childs of the federal district court in South Carolina and Leondra Kruger of the California Supreme Court, among other Black women lawyers and judges. Since the announcement of Justice Stephen Bryer’s retirement and President Biden’s assurance that he would fulfill his campaign promise of nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court, all of the candidates found themselves under the spotlight.
Left to right: Leondra Kruger, Ketanji Brown Jackson, J. Michelle Childs (Photo: AP/Getty Images)
U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson praised Brown Jackson’s nomination told theGrio, “I think it is especially impactful for me because Judge Brown Jackson is from Miami. She is from Miami, and I have known her family for years. Her father served as the school board attorney when I served on the school board. In fact, I had them to hire him as the first Black school board attorney.”
“To have a Black woman and then to have a Black woman who, you know, is eminently qualified, who has stood the test of time. And to watch during this period of time, after January 6th and all that we have been through with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, this would just be the crowning glory of this nation because Black women carry this country on their backs.”
Congresswoman Wilson added, “What would America be, what would Black families be without Black women? We are the foundation, the foundation of this nation. So it’s time for us to have a Black woman on the court to bring our perspective to the nation, to the debate, to the bills, to whatever is happening in this country.
“It’s time. It’s time, and I just think if we had had one a long time ago. Think about what the difference it would have made in this country if we had had a Black woman before.”
In the midst of the conflict in Ukraine, President Biden had been determined to make the historic decision by the end of February to mark Black History Month. Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, told theGrio in the daily briefing on Wednesday, “he is very much looking forward to making this announcement and getting this individual confirmed.”
In this April photo, Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, is sworn in to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on pending judicial nominations. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images)
Psaki went on to say just hours before the Russian strikes on Ukraine, “I think the president is looking forward to announcing a historic, eminently qualified Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. He feels there’s tremendous honor in that he takes the role that every president has in selecting and nominating someone to the Supreme Court very seriously. That’s why he has been spending time not just studying bios, but also reviewing cases and engaging very closely with an internal team on this process.”
Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the AME Church told theGrio, “This is an incredible moment in the history of our nation. Diversity and inclusion must never be left to chance. It must be intentional which makes this a bittersweet moment. You shouldn’t have to be that intentional to get our qualified best legal minds on the Supreme Court bench.”
She added, “Black women still have to be better than the best, work twice as hard often for less.”
The White House recognizes this incredible moment to have the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. “There are a range of eminently qualified Black women whose names have been out there as potential nominees. All of these women would make tremendous additions to the Supreme Court,” said the presidential spokeswoman.
Psaki would not acknowledge if the president had met with any of the nominee potentials prior to making his decision in the James Brady Briefing Room, even as The Washington Post reported that prior to the announcement, President Biden had met with at least two of the top candidates for the Supreme Court.
During the process, White House officials were adamant that the women would not be pit against one another and would leave the process with their professional reputation intact. The Biden official also said all the women considered for the bench were each qualified to be the next Supreme Court Justice.
This historic nomination marks the first time in 233 years a Black woman had a seat on the high court that is considered the final word on the question of law.
This is a developing breaking news story. Check back to update.
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