Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been the most likely nominee to the Supreme Court since President Biden announced his intention to name a Black woman to the position.
And that is who he named on Friday to take over for retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer in the U.S. Supreme Court. “She is concerned about ensuring that democracy works for the American people,” Vice President Joe Biden said in announcing her nomination on Friday. He added, “For far too long, the government and the courts have not looked like America.”
What you need to know about her is outlined below.
Jackson grew born in Miami, where her mother was a public school teacher and her father worked as a lawyer for the city’s school board. Her background is well-suited for a Supreme Court nomination. One of her uncles served as the chief of police for the city.
The Harvard Law School graduate was a state champion debater in high school and served as an editor for the prestigious Harvard Law Review after graduating.
She has been a federal judge for nine years, and last year Vice President Joe Biden named her to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is widely regarded as a potential Supreme Court candidate pool.
Prior to that, she worked as a public defender and as a clerk for Justice Breyer.
Jackson is married and the father of two little girls. She is 51 years old and would be one of the court’s more youthful justices. (Breyer is the oldest at 83 years old.) Amy Coney Barrett, the youngest justice, at 50 years old.)
She also revealed on Friday that she shares a birthday with Constance Baker Motley, who was the first African-American woman to be appointed to the federal bench.
She had already garnered the backing of certain Republicans, as seen by her confirmation by the Senate for three different positions in the past. Last year, three Senate Republicans voted to confirm her to the seat she currently holds on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — a somewhat small number in today’s political climate. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the women selected.
“I believe she is qualified for the position. “She has a different philosophy than I have,” Graham said at the time, according to reporters.
When she was nominated for her first federal judgeship in 2012, she was introduced by then-Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who would go on to become House Speaker. The two are linked through marriage (Ryan’s sister-in-law is married to the twin brother of Jackson’s husband, and Jackson’s husband is married to Ryan’s sister-in-law). “Even though our political views differ, my admiration for Ketanji’s intelligence, her character, and her honesty is unquestionable,” Ryan stated. Friday, he used the same same rhetoric that he did the day before.
However, it is unclear whether any Senate Republicans would suddenly be willing to back her. Another probable nominee, J. Michelle Childs, a South Carolina judge, had at least one Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, expressing positive feelings about her.
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So far, the Republican response to Jackson has been quiet, if not nonexistent. Several Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, released statements in which they described Jackson as “seasoned” and commended her education and professional background. However, Republican opposition to her was beginning to take shape. At Jackson’s confirmation hearing last year, Graham characterized her as a pick from the “extreme left,” according to the senator. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) felt the same way, and he said so in a statement that called into doubt some of her previous court rulings.
Democrats appeared to be completely united behind her, if not ecstatic. According to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), “With her excellent qualifications, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be a Justice who will enforce the Constitution and preserve the rights of all Americans, particularly the voiceless and defenseless.”
If she has the support of all 50 Senate Democrats, Biden will not require the support of any Republican senators in order to have her candidacy confirmed by the Senate. However, given Biden’s emphasis on bipartisanship, it’s possible that he would prefer his choice to garner some Republican support.