MAKING HISTORY: JUDGE JACKSON
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Bryer recently announced his retirement, leaving citizens questioning who his replacement would be as the 116th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. President Biden announced that he was looking for an individual with exceptional credentials, outstanding character, and someone dedicated to justice under the law. He deeply considered this decision and finally, on February 25, 2022, announced his candidate for the position: Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Judge Jackson, born in Washington D.C., has always had a passion for law. In high school, she was a remarkable debater. She had her sights set on Harvard, even when her guidance counselor advised her not to get her hopes up. Jackson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University. She then graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and became an editor for the Harvard Law Review. President Obama nominated her to be the Vice-Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, as well as a court judge for the District of Columbia; she was confirmed with bipartisan support for both of these appointments. Additionally, she served as a law clerk for former Supreme Court Justice Bryer, and was a public defender who represented those who could not afford a lawyer. “Because of her diverse and broad public service, Judge Jackson has a unique appreciation of how critical it is for the justice system to be fair and impartial. With multiple law enforcement officials in her family, she also has a personal understanding of the stakes of the legal system,” said White House officials.
On March 22, 2022, Judge Jackson had her Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing on Capitol Hill. Immediately following the hearing, news outlets took to social media to discuss their opinions. Much was said about her intelligence and calm demeanor, especially in response to the questions being asked to her, which many saw as negative. A columnist for the Washington Post, for example, expressed great discontent with the hearings and referred to them as: “Long days of tendentious attacks from Republicans, several of whom treated Jackson less as a potential justice than as a foil for GOP talking points on crime, race and education.” The writer, Charles Lane, suggested that the Senate should abolish live testimony from Supreme Court nominees; the Senate should perform its constitutional duty, rather than entertain irrelevant questions as a way to make the other side look bad. According to his opinion piece, live testimony is turning into political theater.
Regardless of differences in opinion, having the first black woman on the Supreme Court will be making history. Ketanji Jackson’s parents went to segregated schools, which further highlights the progress made in our country. The Jim Crow Laws were repealed only a little over 50 years ago; many people may not realize how recent that truly is. Going from segregation to having a black woman nominated for the Supreme Court provides people with an understanding of not only how much we have progressed, but how quickly we have, too. Although there is still much work to be done regarding racial equality, this gives much hope in an ever-evolving America.
“Supreme Court Nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.” The White House, The United States Government, 29 Mar. 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/kbj/.
Lane, Charles. “Opinion | the Verdict on KBJ's Nomination Hearings: Never Again.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 30 Mar. 2022, “Supreme Court Nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.” The White House, The United States Government, 29 Mar. 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/kbj/.