Judge Jackson: The First Black Woman Nominated To Sit In The Supreme Court

by Elpidio R. Estioko

President Joe Biden just made history by nominating a Black woman to join the United States Supreme Court. He nominated 51-year-old Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge in DC’s federal appellate court.

Jackson had been considered the front-runner for the Supreme Court vacancy since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement. In a White House press conference, Biden introduced Jackson in a moving speech:

“For too long, our government, our courts haven’t looked like America. 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 will inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.”

Fifty-five years ago in 1967, we had the first Black justice in the Supreme Court with Judge Thurgood Marshall, a passionately progressive attorney who helped end school segregation. He was also known as Mr. Civil Rights because he was one of the architects of the civil rights movement.

Jackson’s confirmation hearings will start on March 21, 2022. Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono will conduct the hearings as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In a private meeting with Jackson, Hirono said they discussed “One of her strengths would be her willingness and desire to listen to the perspectives of the other justices,” said Hirono.

“There’s no reason to wait around, in my view, because there is going to be a vacancy and it should be filled. She is someone who wants to reach out to the other justices and be as persuasive as she can.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell also met with Jackson recently. During a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell called Jackson a “sharp lawyer” with an “impressive resume,” but he did raise concerns of partisanship.

“Our citizens need Justices who treat all parties fairly, apply our laws and Constitution as written, and leave legislating to us here in Congress,” McConnell said.

The Associated Press reported that Republican Senator Susan Collins had words of praise for Jackson. She said that her discussions with the Supreme Court nominee were “productive and that her credentials are impressive.”

Collins said: “[Jackson] takes a very thorough, careful approach in applying the law to the facts of the case, and that is what I want to see in a judge.”

However, she mentioned that she will wait to make a final decision whether to support Jackson after the confirmation hearings.

Collins, along with Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, were the only three Republican senators who voted to confirm Jackson to the appeals court last year.

Murkowski said in a recent statement that her previous vote did not mean she would be supportive this time. For Graham, he said he won’t vote for Jackson after he pushed Biden to pick a different candidate from his home state, federal Judge J. Michelle Childs.

Reports say that though historic, the choice of Jackson will not change the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court.

The court currently has six conservative justices and three liberal justices with the retiring Breyer comes from the liberal camp.

Biden’s choice may somehow provide the much-needed push for his party and a chance for him to ignite the Democratic base that is less excited to vote in this year’s midterm elections than it has been over the past several elections.

The nomination process will now turn to the full Senate, where Biden’s Democratic Party holds the thinnest possible majority.

Unlike for most major pieces of legislation, however, Democrats do not need Republican help this time to confirm a Supreme Court justice and can do it with their 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a deadlock.

Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Congressional Black Caucus Chair, said “the nomination is something that I will remember forever.”

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey also commented that “Jackson will bring a new, necessary perspective to the court and will also be an inspiration to Black women and girls everywhere.”

Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida said she “never dreamed that, in my lifetime, I would see a Black woman nominated” to the Supreme Court.

Congratulations to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson!

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.

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