Image Source: The Hindu
Ketanji Brown Jackson has made history after being sworn in as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court on Thursday.
Jackson, a former public defender who advanced to become a judge on a significant federal appeals court, made history. Jackson, a 51-year-old Miami native and Harvard-educated attorney will occupy Associate Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat, which he has held for 28 years. The Senate confirmed Jackson over three months ago. Jackson became the president’s first choice for the nation’s top court after Breyer announced his retirement in January, allowing Joe Biden to nominate the new justice.
Jackson, a former justice on the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, took the oath of office at a contentious time for the high court, as its decisions to overturn Roe v. Wade and increase access to handguns have exacerbated tensions among the justices and highlighted divisions among Americans over culture war issues.
However, none of that was on display as Jackson received his oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts and Breyer, who Jackson had previously worked for as a clerk more than 20 years prior. The first time women and persons of color outnumbered white men on the court occurred when Jackson was sworn in as the 104th associate justice.
After the event, the court released a statement from Jackson in which she expressed her gratitude for being a part of the nation’s promise.
Jackson can now carry out her responsibilities as a justice, Roberts said in a brief speech before the oaths were delivered. Jackson will then be able to set up her chambers and her staff in time for the beginning of this fall’s term, which already seems like it will be very demanding.
Roberts greeted Jackson, saying, “I am glad to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling.”
Four women and two African Americans will sit on the nation’s highest bench for the first time in the court’s 233-year existence when the justices reconvene in Washington in October with Jackson in her seat.
Three Senate Republicans and all the Democrats voted in favor of Jackson’s confirmation, which passed 53-47. Jackson is not expected to influence the court’s conservative-leaning because she is replacing Breyer, who President Bill Clinton chose. Jackson could serve for many years despite being relatively young for a justice of the Supreme Court.
Republicans generally complimented Jackson’s demeanor; however, some criticized her for being lax on crime and questioned her participation in representing alleged terrorists who were designated enemy combatants following the 9/11 attacks. Nevertheless, Jackson breezed through the hearings despite some of that criticism being scathing and unfair in Democrats’ eyes.
The Supreme Court will consider several significant cases in the upcoming term, including whether state courts have the authority to examine state laws governing federal elections and whether companies have the right to refuse same-sex couples’ marriage services.
Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first formerly employed federal public defender for the Supreme Court. In addition, she will be the only judge with prior experience on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a bipartisan body that recommends penalties for criminal offenses in federal court. Jackson will be one of two justices, along with Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who had held the position of trial court judge on a court where many of her peers served in presidential administrations before being appointed to the position of appeals court judges.