President Joe Biden on Friday nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill the seat of retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court.
In introducing Jackson, Biden called the judge “one of our nation’s brightest legal minds,” and said she was a person with “a strong moral compass who will stand up for what is right.”
He added that Jackson “looks people in the eye, strives to be fair and get it right and do justice.”
Jackson, 51, will be the first Black woman to sit on the high court if she is confirmed by the Senate.
“For too long, our government and our courts haven’t looked like America,” Biden said. “I believe it’s time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation, with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications, and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.”
Jackson spoke briefly, thanking her family and mentors she has had during her career for their support, including Justice Breyer. Jackson said that while she may be confirmed to fill his seat, she could “never fill your shoes.”
“I am truly humble by the honor of this nomination,” Jackson said. She thanked God for “delivering me at this point in my professional journey.”
She is currently on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and has served as an assistant federal public defender, a commissioner on the US Sentencing Commission, a judge on two federal courts and a lawyer in private practice.
With the nomination Biden is fulfilling a promise made during his 2020 presidential campaign that he would nominate the first Black woman to the court.
Biden reportedly interviewed at least three candidates for the job: Jackson; Judge J. Michelle Childs, a federal judge in South Carolina and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court, according to people familiar with the process.
If confirmed, Jackson will replace Breyer, who announced his retirement from the court last month. Jackson clerked for Breyer during the 1999 term after serving as a clerk in 1997-1998 to Judge Bruce M. Selya, a federal judge in Massachusetts.
Democrats have set early April as a goal for winning Senate confirmation of Jackson’s nomination, with plans to convene Judiciary Committee hearings toward the end of March, The New York Times reported.
Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., in 1970 and grew up in Miami. Her parents began their careers as public school teachers. She had two uncles who were law enforcement officers, including one who became Miami’s police chief.
She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, then attended Harvard Law School, where she graduated cum laude and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Jackson is married to Patrick Jackson who serves as Chief of the Division of General Surgery at Georgetown University Hospital. They have two daughters.
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