President Joe Biden announced federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his first nominee to the Supreme Court on Friday.
In a tweet announcing the news, Biden called Jackson “one of our nation’s brightest legal minds” and said that she will be “an exceptional Justice.”
I’m proud to announce that I am nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court. Currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, she is one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice.https://t.co/iePvhz1YaA pic.twitter.com/Nzqv2AtN8h
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 25, 2022
If confirmed, Jackson would be the first Black woman to sit on the bench of the nation’s highest court.
The 51-year-old judge once clerked for Justice Stephen G. Breyer, whose seat she would fill at the Supreme Court. Breyer formally announced his upcoming retirement in January, and plans to leave once the court enters summer recess.
Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute, a legal organization that defends religious freedom, commented that "In nominating Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden is selecting a judicial activist for the Supreme Court. Her record from the beginning of her career shows hostility to religious liberty, free speech, and other constitutional rights. The American people do not want a liberal extremist on the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Judge Jackson’s judicial activism will place the constitutional rights of all Americans in jeopardy."
Born in Washington, D.C., Jackson grew up in Miami. She earned both her undergraduate degree and law degree at Harvard, before working as a federal public defender. Her resume includes serving as vice chair and commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Biden elevated Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year. She first became a federal judge in 2013, serving the federal district court in D.C. as a President Barack Obama appointee.
Jackson lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband Patrick and their two daughters. Jackson’s father worked as an attorney for the county school board while her mother worked as a high school principal. Her younger brother served in the U.S. Army, including in Iraq and Egypt, before becoming a lawyer. Former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan is also a relative by marriage.
Biden first announced that he would nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court on the campaign trail.
"I will nominate someone with extraordinary qualifications, charity, experience and integrity,” Biden repeated in January. “And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.”
Jackson previously said that her race does not impact her decisions.
“I’m doing a certain thing when I get my cases. I’m looking at the arguments, the facts and the law,” she said at her 2021 confirmation. “I’m methodically and intentionally setting aside personal views, any other inappropriate considerations, and I would think that race would be the kind of thing that would be inappropriate to inject into my evaluation of a case.”
But she also recognized her background as a Black woman.
“I’ve experienced life in perhaps a different way than some of my colleagues because of who I am, and that might be valuable — I hope it would be valuable — if I was confirmed to the court,” she said.