Since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement, President Biden has gone through a rigorous process to identify his replacement. President Biden was looking for a candidate with exceptional credentials, impeccable character and an unwavering dedication to the rule of law. And the president was looking for someone who is committed to equal justice under the law and who understands the profound impact Supreme Court decisions have on the lives of the American people.
That is why the President has nominated Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next Supreme Court justice. Justice Jackson is one of our country’s brightest legal minds and has an unusual background in our legal system, which gives her the prospect of being an exceptional judge.
About Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Jackson was born in Washington, DC and raised in Miami, Florida. Her parents attended segregated elementary schools and later attended historically black colleges and universities. Both began their careers as public school teachers and went on to become leaders and administrators in the Miami-Dade public school system. When Judge Jackson was in preschool, her father attended law school. At a 2017 conference, Judge Jackson recounted her love of the law by sitting next to her father in their apartment as he tackled his law school homework – reading cases and preparing for a Socratic interrogation – while she undertook her preschool homework – coloring books.
Judge Jackson stood out as a high achiever throughout her childhood. She was a speaking and debating star who was elected “mayor” of Palmetto Junior High and student body president of Miami Palmetto Senior High School. But like many black women, Judge Jackson still faced naysayers. When Judge Jackson told her high school guidance counselor that she wanted to attend Harvard, the guidance counselor warned her that Judge Jackson shouldn’t place her “so high.”
That didn’t stop Judge Jackson. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, then attended Harvard Law School, where she graduated cum laude and was editor of Harvard Law Review.
Judge Jackson lives with her husband, Patrick, and their two daughters, in Washington, DC.
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit
Judge Jackson was one of President Biden’s first nominees for the bench. It was upheld with bipartisan support at the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in 2021.
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
President Obama appointed Judge Jackson as a district judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2012. She was confirmed with bipartisan support in 2013.
Vice Chairman of the US Sentencing Commission
President Obama nominated Justice Jackson to serve as Vice Chair of the US Sentencing Commission in 2009, and she was confirmed with bipartisan support in 2010. Before becoming a judge, Justice Jackson followed in the footsteps of her mentor, Judge Breyer, working on the United States Sentencing Commission. The Commission, which President Biden fought to create as a member of the US Senate, is bipartisan in nature. His work there focused on reducing unwarranted sentencing disparities and ensuring that federal sentences were fair and proportionate.
Judge Jackson represented defendants who could not afford a lawyer. She would be there first former federal public defender to serve on the Supreme Court.
Clerk of the Supreme Court
Justice Jackson served as Justice Breyer’s clerk and learned first-hand how important it is for a Supreme Court justice to reach consensus and speak from a general understanding of the Constitution.
Perspective on the legal system
Due to her diverse and extensive public service, Justice Jackson has a unique appreciation for the importance of the justice system to be fair and impartial. With several law enforcement officials in her family, she also has a personal understanding of issues in the justice system. After serving in the US Army and being deployed to Iraq and Egypt, Jackson’s brother served as a police officer in Baltimore and two of his uncles were police officers in Miami.