Former judge on the United States Court of Appeals Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by senators to become the 116th Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court on April 7.
Jackson grew up in Miami, Florida, and developed her love of law from her family, some of which serve or have served as law enforcement officials. Inspiration from her family led her to seek out high grades and positions of leadership throughout her education. Though she faced adversity with her aspirations in high school, Jackson eventually graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School. She was also an editor of the Harvard Law Review and built rapport with many professionals as an Ivy League alum.
Her avid work ethic and impressive credentials landed her a job as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Bryer, where she learned about serving as a justice interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Jackson moved on to become a public defender, and will be the first Justice on the Supreme Court who has served as a federal public defender.
Jackson was recognized by former President Barack Obama in 2009, who nominated her to serve as the Vice Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The Sentencing Commission is bipartisan by design, and in 2013 she was confirmed once again with bipartisan support for Obama’s nomination to be a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Her impressive resume, however, did not earn her support from 47 Republican senators. In fact, during her confirmation several Republican senators walked out of the chamber while those in the majority celebrated. All 50 Democratic senators of the caucus voted to confirm Jackson, making her victory a close 53-47 win.
“But at this stage, I was convinced that Judge Jackson is well qualified, intelligent, capable, and I became convinced that she is within the mainstream,” said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah when questioned on his decision to vote to confirm Jackson, against most Republican colleagues.
Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz and other Republican senators spoke in depth during Jackson’s testimony, depicting her rulings as soft on crime, as well as painting Jackson as part of the polarization and sensationalism of a so-called radical left they believe the Democratic Party to be culpable of, taking up much of their questioning time with topics outside of the scope of Jackson’s legal work.
Regardless of the intense scrutiny Jackson faced from Republicans and the plethora of defamatory media commentary surrounding her character and credibility, she proudly accepted her position to be appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court.
“She is one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional justice,” stated President Joe Biden following Jackson’s confirmation.