Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court

President Joe Biden on Friday will nominate Federal Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Jackson works at the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, a position where Biden promoted her last year from a previous job as a judge of a federal court of first instance.

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden on Friday will nominate Federal Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, the White House said, making her the first black woman elected to serve in a court that once declared her race unworthy of citizenship and supported.

In Jackson, Biden is fulfilling his campaign promise to make a historic appointment and further diversify the court, which for nearly two centuries has consisted entirely of white people. He has chosen a lawyer who will be the first former public defender in the Supreme Court, although she also has the elite legal experience of other judges.

Jackson would become the second black judge of the current court – Judge Clarence Thomas, Conservative, second – and only third in history.

Biden planned to introduce Jackson in a speech at the White House on Friday afternoon, where Jackson was also scheduled to speak, the White House said.

She will also be the only sixth woman to work on the court, and her confirmation will mean that for the first time four women will sit together in a court of nine people.

The current court includes three women, one of whom is the first Latin American in the court, Judge Sonia Satamayor.

Jackson will join the Liberal minority in a Conservative-dominated court that is considering reducing abortion rights and will consider ending the positive action in college admission and limiting voting rights efforts to increase minority representation.

Biden is taking the place to be released by 83-year-old Judge Stephen Breyer, who is resigning late this summer.

Jackson, 51, at the beginning of his legal career once worked as one of Breyer’s lawyers. She studied at Harvard as an undergraduate and law school, and also served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an agency that develops federal sentencing policy before becoming a federal judge in 2013.

Her nomination must be confirmed by the Senate, where Democrats have a majority by a small margin of 50 to 50, and Vice President Kamala Harris will be productive. Party leaders have promised a swift but deliberate consideration of the presidential candidacy.

The next court will replace one of the more liberal judges so that it does not shift the weight of the court, which is now moving 6-3 in favor of the Conservatives.

The news came two years after Biden, who then struggled to win the Democratic presidency, first vowed during a debate in South Carolina to nominate a black woman to the High Court when a vacancy arises.

“Everyone needs to be represented,” Biden said. “We talked about the Supreme Court – I’m looking forward to having a black woman in the Supreme Court to make sure we actually represent everyone.”

Senate Legal Committee Chairman Dick Durbin has said he wants the Senate to make rapid progress on the nomination. The senators have set an indicative goal to approve by April 8, when they will go on a two-week spring break. The hearings may start in mid-March.

The deadline could be complicated by a number of things, including current developments between Russia and Ukraine and the long absence of Democrat Senator Ben Ray Luhan of New Mexico, who suffered a stroke last month and dropped out for weeks. Democrats will need Luhan’s vote to confirm Biden’s election if it is not supported by any Republican.

Once the candidacy is submitted to the Senate, the Senate Judicial Committee must review the candidacy and hold a hearing on the approval. Once the committee approves the candidacy, it goes to the Senate for a final vote.

The whole process is going through several time-consuming stages, including meetings with individual senators, which are expected to begin next week. While Judge Amy Connie Barrett was confirmed just four weeks after she was nominated before the 2020 election, the process usually takes a few weeks longer than that.

Democrats Biden and the Senate are hoping for a bipartisan vote on the nomination, but it is unclear whether they will be able to defeat any senators from the Republican Party after three fierce battles for confirmation under President Donald Trump. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of three Republicans who voted last year to confirm Jackson in the Court of Appeals, pushed Biden to nominate another candidate from his home state, Judge J. Michelle Childs. Earlier this month, he said his vote would have been “very problematic” if it had been someone else.

Jackson was on the president’s shortlist as a potential candidate even before Breyer retired. Biden and his team spent weeks reviewing her records, interviewing her friends and family and studying her background.

Biden said he was interested in choosing a candidate in Breyer’s uniform who could be a persuasive force for colleagues. Although Breyer’s voices tended to put him center-left on an increasingly conservative court, he often saw gray in situations where colleagues were more likely to find black or white.

“With her exceptional qualifications and ruthlessness, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will become a judge who will uphold the Constitution and protect the rights of all Americans, including the voiceless and vulnerable,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Judge Jackson’s historic nomination is an important step towards ensuring that the Supreme Court reflects the nation as a whole.”

As part of the search process, Biden, who is a longtime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also interviewed Childs and California Supreme Court Justice Leandra Kruger, according to a person familiar with the matter. He also consulted with a wide range of legal experts and legislators on both sides and delved deeply into the legal articles of the finalists before selecting Jackson for the post.

Jackson works at the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, a position where Biden promoted her last year from a previous job as a judge of a federal court of first instance. The three current judges – Thomas, Brett Cavanaugh and John Roberts, the chief judge – previously worked in the same court.

On Friday morning before the announcement, Jackson took part in a planned dispute before the district court.

Jackson was confirmed in the post by a Senate vote of 53-44, receiving the support of three Republicans: Graham, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Graham on Twitter expressed dissatisfaction with the nomination, saying: “I look forward to a respectful but interesting hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Bipartisanship is important to Biden, who has often said he seeks support from the Republican Party when he closes his candidacy. Another connection to the Republican People’s Republic: Jackson is married to former House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

In one of Jackson’s most high-profile decisions as a trial judge, she ordered former White House attorney Don McGann to appear before Congress. This was a failure in the efforts of former President Donald Trump to prevent the testimony of his top aides. The case was appealed, and a deal was eventually reached on McGann’s testimony.

Another notable case overseen by Jackson is related to the online conspiracy theory “pizzagate”, which revolved around false online rumors about famous Democrats who sheltered the children of sex slaves at a pizzeria in Washington. A man from North Carolina appeared in the restaurant with a machine gun and a revolver. Jackson called it “pure luck” that no one was hurt and sentenced him to four years in prison.

Jackson has much less experience as a judge of the Court of Appeal. She was part of a panel of three judges that ruled in December against Trump’s efforts to defend documents from the House of Representatives Committee to Investigate the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol Uprising.

Jackson was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Miami. She said her parents, Johnny and Ellery Brown, chose her name to pay tribute to her family’s African descent. They asked the aunt, who was at the time in the Peace Corps in Africa, to send a list of names of African girls, and they chose Ketanji Onyka, which they were told to mean “sweetheart”.

Jackson traces her interest in law when she was in preschool and her father was in law school and they sat together at a table, she with coloring books and he with law books. Her father became an attorney for the county school board, and her mother was a high school principal. She has a nine-year-old younger brother who served in the military, including in Iraq, and is now a lawyer.


Associated Press authors Mark Sherman, Jessica Gresco and Mary Claire Jalonik contributed to this report.

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