Posted on February 25, 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson Announced as Biden’s Pick for Supreme Court Nominee

Ken Thomas et al., Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2022

President Biden on Friday selected Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the first Black woman nominated to be a justice on the nation’s highest court.

“For too long our government and our courts haven’t looked like America,” Mr. Biden said at the White House, introducing the judge as a “proven consensus builder” and a “distinguished jurist.”


Judge Jackson, 51 years old, serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, one of the nation’s most influential courts and often a steppingstone for Supreme Court justices.


Judge Jackson would be the third Black justice in Supreme Court history, following Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. If confirmed, her arrival also would mark the first time the high court has included four women.

Mr. Biden’s nomination won’t change the balance of power on a conservative high court that has six justices appointed by Republican presidents, including three by former President Donald Trump.

A simple majority in the Senate is needed to confirm a high-court nominee. The Senate is split 50-50, but Democrats wield control because Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tiebreaking vote.

Mr. Biden has said he would nominate a Black woman for the vacancy, saying such a move was long overdue. His announcement marked the second anniversary of his making that pledge, which came during a debate in South Carolina. The state, where Black voters play a pivotal role in state politics, helped revitalize Mr. Biden’s flagging presidential campaign and put him on the path to win the Democratic nomination.


Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court is part of a broader push by Mr. Biden to diversify the federal judiciary, in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and professional experience. Of the nearly 50 life-tenured judges Mr. Biden has placed on the federal courts so far, three-quarters have been women, and two-thirds have been people of color.

“We need Black women at every level of the judiciary, and especially on the highest court of the land,” said NAACP general counsel Janette McCarthy Wallace.


Judge Jackson previously served as an assistant federal public defender and as the vice chairwoman of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that provides sentencing guidelines for the federal courts.

In 2011, she and other commissioners voted to retroactively apply a new law easing penalties for possession of crack cocaine. At the meeting taking up the vote, she spoke at length at what she described as the gross injustice of the prior policy of treating offenders trafficking in powder cocaine more leniently.

On Washington’s federal trial court, Judge Jackson saw a steady diet of routine matters but also handled the occasional high-profile case, including several involving the Trump administration.

In 2019, she blocked the administration from expanding a policy known as expedited removal that allows the government to quickly deport immigrants who crossed the border illegally without involving immigration courts. The decision was reversed on appeal by the D.C. Circuit, which said federal law gives the president “unreviewable discretion” to shorten and speed up the deportation process.


Judge Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., to two public school teachers, who moved her family to the Miami area when she was a child. Her parents, she said, named her “Ketanji Onyika” to express pride in their African ancestry. {snip}