- Biden on Friday praised his historic Supreme Court pick, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
- If confirmed, Jackson would be the first Black woman to serve on the high court.
- Jackson expressed hope that if confirmed her life can inspire future generations.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson invoked her faith, family, professional mentors, and the inspiration of the nation’s first Black woman federal judge on Friday when she accepted her own historic nomination to serve on the nation’s Supreme Court.
Jackson noted that she shares the same birthday as Constance Baker Motley, who served on the powerful US District Court for the Southern District of New York from 1966 to 2005 and also made history as the first Black woman to argue before the Supreme Court.
“Today, I proudly stand on Judge Motley’s shoulders sharing not only her birthday but also her steadfast and courageous commitment to equal justice under the law,” Jackson said during the formal White House announcement of her nomination.
If confirmed, Jackson will join Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas as a justice of color on the high court. Her elevation would mark the first time in history that justices of color would make up a third of the court. Jackson expressed hope that her story will one day inspire future generations as well.
“If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and sacred principles upon which this nation was founded will inspire future generations of Americans,” she said.
President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Motley to the federal bench in 1966. Like many Black lawyers at the time, Motley cut her teeth in the thick of the Civil Rights movement working for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She argued 10 cases before the Supreme Court, winning nine of them.
‘A nominee of extraordinary qualifications’
Biden praised Jackson and cast her in the mold of Justice Stephen Breyer, who Jackson previously clerked for and who has been a liberal stalwart on the high court for decades. Biden called Breyer a “friend,” a nod to their close relationship given their shared time in the US Senate when Breyer worked for Sen. Ted Kennedy in the 1970s.
“I believe it’s time that we have a Court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve at the highest level,” Biden said in his introduction of Jackson.
Jackson addressed how she may soon replace one of her legal mentors. She praised how Breyer “exemplified every day in every way that a Supreme Court justice can perform at the highest level of skill and integrity while also being guided by civility, grace, and generosity of spirit.”
“Justice Breyer, the members of the Senate will decide if I can fill your seat, but I can never fill your shoes,” Jackson said.
She added that she’s been “blessed beyond measure” throughout her life, adding that “one can only come this far by faith.” One of those blessings, she said, is the virtue of growing up in the US.
“The United States of America is the greatest beacon of hope and democracy that the world has ever known,” she said.
—CSPAN (@cspan) February 25, 2022
Senate Democrats are expected to move quickly to confirm Jackson. By virtue of Republican-led rules changes, Democrats do not need a single GOP vote, but Biden has stressed that he would like his nominee to receive bipartisan support. Three Republicans, Sens. Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, voted to confirm Jackson last year to her current position on the DC Circuit, widely regarded as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court.
But Graham had a dour reaction to the initial news of Jackson’s nomination. The South Carolina senator supported Rep. James Clyburn’s very public push for J. Michelle Childs, a South Carolina federal judge. Clyburn, a Democrat and major Biden political ally, had touted Childs’ background. On Friday, Clyburn announced his “full support” for Jackson.
“It means the radical Left has won President Biden over yet again,” Graham said in a statement on Friday before Biden’s announcement became official. “The attacks by the Left on Judge Childs from South Carolina apparently worked.”
Jackson is perhaps best known for her scorching opinion that slammed the Trump administration for trying to thwart a Congressional investigation.
“Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings,” Jackson wrote in 2019.