Ketanji Brown Jackson Picked as Biden’s SCOTUS Nominee: Making Herstory


President Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Friday, Feb. 25th.

Lizzy Crawford

After Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement in January of 2022, Biden proclaimed his former commitment to nominating the first African American woman to the highest court in the nation and speculation led people to believe that President Biden would announce his nomination for the incoming Supreme Court Justice by the end of the month. CNN reported on this quoting Biden, “‘The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity. And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court(…)It’s long overdue in my view. I made that commitment during the campaign for president, and I will keep that commitment.’” This left the nation eager to see who will be the newest SCOTUS judge, especially during a month that is dedicated to honoring Black History. 


Many had their eyes on the Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. Judge, Ketanji Brown Jackson. And on February 25th, President Biden nominated her to be the 116th Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. She is very qualified for the job. As mentioned above, the 51-year-old Harvard Law graduate has served as a district judge for D.C.. She was the vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission from 2010 to 2014 and is on the Harvard Board of Overseers. 


Brown came from an accomplished family. Her father, Johnny Brown, was the chief attorney for the Miami-Dade County School Board. Jackson’s mother, Ellery Brown, was a principal at New World School of Arts. Both of her parents attended HBCUs and were teachers as well. From a young age, Jackson strived for excellence. She was the champion of a massive debate competition, formally titled the National Catholic Forensic League. 


While in law school, Jackson was the editor of the Harvard Law Review. She also fought for justice by leading protests against a student at Harvard who had a Confederate flag displayed out of his window. 


The New York Times reports on Jackson’s personal connection to her career. They tell the story of Jackson’s uncle, Thomas Brown’s, cocaine conviction in which he was sentenced to life in prison in 1989. Brown was released in 2017 when President Obama released thousands of people who were sent to prison with interminable sentences when they only committed minor drug offenses. Brown reportedly passed four months after his release. Jackson clearly has a personal connection to improving the criminal justice system for all, particularly through the interpretation of the law. Specifically, she used her time on the Sentencing Commission to adjust the protocols on penalties for drug-related offenses. 


Jackson is also known for her impeccable ability to compromise, and to make two opposing groups see eye-to-eye. The New York Times notes, “At the same time, however, she was related by marriage to the Republican vice-presidential nominee: Paul D. Ryan, the House speaker. The twin brother of her husband, Dr. Jackson, is married to the sister of Mr. Ryan’s wife…“Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character, for her integrity, it is unequivocal,” Mr. Ryan told the Senate Judiciary Committee. This proves the extent to which Jackson was able to unite both parties, something that is quite uncommon in the current political climate. 


Biden reported on his selection stating, “Raised by public school teachers, she was a standout student who became a clerk for Justice Breyer, the same justice she will be replacing when confirmed….What’s remarkable is the background she brings to the bench. Judge Jackson has deep experience across the legal system…she’s a history maker…” She is a history maker indeed. 


There is so much more to learn about this remarkable woman as this is hopefully just the beginning of her time serving as a Justice. If Jackson is confirmed, not only will she be the first African American female to serve on the Supreme Court, she will also be the first former federal public defender to serve as a Justice. Jackson commented, “‘Having lawyers who can set aside their own personal beliefs about their client’s alleged behavior or their client’s propensity to commit crimes benefits all persons in the United States because it incentivizes the government to investigate accusations thoroughly and to protect the rights of the accused during the criminal justice process.’” Today, Jackson resides in D.C. with her husband, Patrick, and two daughters. She surely has been and will be an inspiring role model for her daughters and all young girls in America. 



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