Slacker’s Syllabus: Ketanji Brown Jackson

Photo by Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images
Originally Published: 
Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Shutterstock

Meet President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Last month, Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. Breyer is one of the few liberal (by Supreme Court standards) justices, so Biden’s choice for who should replace him is huge.

On Friday, Biden officially nominated Jackson.

President Biden sought a candidate with exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law. Judge Jackson is an exceptionally qualified nominee as well as an historic nominee.

Why is Jackson’s nomination historic? Why is Jackson’s nomination historic? Why is Jackson’s nomination historic? Why is Jackson’s nomination historic?

If confirmed, Jackson, a D.C. native, will become the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. You might have heard her name last year, when the Senate confirmed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

There have been 115 justices in total. The scarce inclusion of women of color in general — and the total exclusion of Black women — has certainly shaped the court’s rulings. So as the Supreme Court takes up issues like reproductive freedom, Black women are celebrating Jackson’s appointment.

The Supreme Court is one of those spaces where the negotiations that go on there provide protections for the people at large. So, yeah, I need a sister on the court.

Jackson is also a former public defender. And that’s a BIG deal.

Per Axios, if confirmed, Jackson will be the first justice in decades with any significant experience in criminal defense.

She became an assistant federal public defender in 2002 in Washington, D.C.

In addition, Jackson was vice chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. During her tenure, the commission rolled back harsh sentences for drug-related charges, which included amending the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.


Many people predicted that Biden would nominate Jackson.

In a December 2020 letter to Democratic senators, Biden said he’s “focused on nominating individuals whose legal experiences have been historically underrepresented on the federal bench.”

That included “public defenders, civil rights and legal aid attorneys, and those who represent Americans in every walk of life.”

Now, Jackson will have to be confirmed by the Senate.

She’s successfully been through the ringer once before. Last year, Jackson was confirmed to the D.C. court by a 53-44 vote.

But this is a different battle.

Already, Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which oversees SCOTUS nominations, are making noise. Graham claimed the “radical left” had won Biden over after the president announced his pick.

“I expect a respectful but interesting hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Graham said.

J Scott Applewhite/AP/Shutterstock

Meanwhile, progressive organizations are celebrating Jackson’s nomination.

On Twitter, NARAL Pro-Choice America wrote, “We need a justice on the bench who will uphold reproductive freedom.”

And in a press release, Muslim Advocates Senior Policy Counsel Sumayyah Waheed said, “Judge Jackson’s unique experience as a former public defender is needed on the Supreme Court to turn back this tide of state-sanctioned discrimination.”

Read More:

Learn more about Jackson by checking out this profile by SCOTUS blog.

And this Vox article details more of Jackson’s work in criminal justice reform.

Photo by Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

Thanks for reading,
head home for more!