Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Tom Williams/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

Biden names Judge Ketanji Jackson to Supreme Court in historic pick


WASHINGTON — President Biden has selected Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, a history-making choice that would make her the first Black woman to ascend to the high court.

The president announced his decision in a statement on Twitter and planned to deliver remarks later Friday.

Jackson, 51, a U.S. appeals court judge in Washington, had been the front runner for the Supreme Court seat ever since Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 83, announced last month he was retiring.

Her appointment would add a strong, progressive voice to the court for decades to come, but it would not alter the court’s current ideological balance, which now skews 6-3 toward Republican-appointed justices.

Jackson shares an Ivy League education with most other justices, graduating with honors from Harvard Law School. She was a former Supreme Court law clerk for Breyer.

But in addition to being the first Black female justice and only the third Black justice, Jackson would be the first on the high court to have previously worked as a public defender, something progressive groups praised as providing her with a different perspective.

Jackson spent eight years working as a federal district judge before being confirmed last year to the U.S. Court of Appeals by a vote of 53 to 44, receiving three Republican votes. That bipartisan support is expected to help ease her confirmation in a Senate currently split 50-50.

The appeals court mostly decides regulatory disputes, so Jackson does not have a track record of rulings or other writings on controversies such as abortion, guns or religion.

Biden had long promised to select a Black woman for the high court.  Jackson was well known and highly regarded in the Obama White House, and her name was mentioned as a possible nominee after Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in 2016. That ill-fated nomination went instead to Judge Merrick Garland, who was denied even a hearing by Senate Republicans.

Soon after Biden moved into the White House, Jackson was nominated to move up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which has often been a stepping stone to the high court, including for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Two other finalists for the seat were California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, 45, and J. Michelle Childs, a federal district judge in South Carolina.

Jackson grew up in Miami, the daughter of two school teachers who moved up the professional ladder. Her father went to law school and eventually became a top attorney for the Miami-Dade school system. Her mother became the principal of Miami’s downtown school for the arts.

At Harvard, she met her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, who is a surgeon.  The couple has two daughters.

Story by

David G. Savage and Eli Stokols

Los Angeles Times  (TNS)


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