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Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman to the Supreme Court

President Joe Biden on Friday nominated federal judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, making her the first black woman selected to serve on the bench.

‘For too long our government, our courts haven’t looked like America,’ Biden said of his historic pick. 

‘I am truly humbled by the extraordinary honor of this nomination,’ Jackson said.

‘I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking god for delivering me to this point in my professional journey. My life has been blessed beyond measure, and I do know that one can only come this far by faith,’ she said. 

In his push for her nomination, Biden pointed to Jackson’s unique qualifications – she would be the high court’s first former public defender – and that she has been previously confirmed by the Senate for the federal bench, garnering Republican votes in the Senate for that position. 

‘She served both in public service as a federal public defender, a federal public defender and in private law practice as an accomplished lawyer with a prestigious law firm,’ the president said in remarks at the White House with Jackson by his side. Vice President Kamala Harris was also there.

‘She comes from a family of law enforcement with her brother and uncles having served as police officers,’ Biden said, although he did not mention Jackson’s uncle, who served jail time for coke possession under the ‘three strikes’ rule. 

But Jackson did mention her uncle.

‘You may have read that I have one uncle who got caught up in the drug trade and received a life sentence. That is true. But law enforcement also runs in my family. In addition to my brother I had two uncles who served decades as police officers, one of whom became the police chief in my home town of Miami, Florida,’ she said. 

She praised the support she’s received from her family, noting her father was a lawyer who inspired her to go to law school. 

‘I am standing here today by the grace of god as testament to the love and support that I’ve received from my family,’ she said. 

Jackson’s husband Patrick and younger daughter Leila were at the announcement, sitting between first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Their oldest daughter was at college. 

Friday marks two years to the day that Biden pledged to make history by nominating the first black woman to the high court. He made the vow during the 2020 primary debate in South Carolina.

Liberals praised the pick, citing Jackson’s background as a public defender. Republicans offered a more caution reaction with most GOP senators saying they would keep an open mind when meeting with her during the confirmation process. 

President Joe Biden on Friday nominated federal judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, making her the first black woman selected to serve on the bench

Ketanji Brown Jackson said she was  'truly humbled' by the nomination

Ketanji Brown Jackson said she was  ‘truly humbled’ by the nomination

The White House took to Twitter to tout a range of support from a wide range of figures from Barack Obama to former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is related to Jackson via marriage.

‘I want to congratulate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on her nomination to the Supreme Court. Judge Jackson has already inspired young Black women like my daughters to set their sights higher, and her confirmation will help them believe they can be anything they want to be,’ Obama said.

‘Janna and I are incredibly happy for Ketanji and her entire family. Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character, and for her integrity, is unequivocal,’ Ryan said.  

Biden had whittled down his search to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer to a final three: Jackson, 51, Michelle Childs, 55, and Leondra Kruger, 45. 

‘President Biden sought a candidate with exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law,’ the White House said in a statement on Friday.

‘He also sought a nominee – much like Justice Breyer – who is wise, pragmatic, and has a deep understanding of the Constitution as an enduring charter of liberty. And the President sought an individual who is committed to equal justice under the law and who understands the profound impact that the Supreme Court’s decisions have on the lives of the American people.’ 

Jackson’s nomination is part of Biden’s push to diversify the judicial branch.  His pick is not expected to change the tilt of the consevative-leaning court but his focus on younger nominees will ensure his pick will have a long influence on its decisions.

The first step in the process was for Biden to make the formal offer to Jackson, which he did on Thursday night. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised a rapid confirmation for the liftime pick to the court. A simple majority is needed to confirm her to the bench. The Democrats hold 50 Senate seats with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tie breaker. 

Democrats have set early April the goal for final confirmation, with plans to begin Judiciary Committee hearings toward the end of March. 

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, has been more specific, saying he wants to see Biden’s nominee confirmed by April 9.

Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the Senate to the federal bench last year

Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the Senate to the federal bench last year

How Harvard-educated Ketanji Brown rose from a public defender to the nation’s highest court and helped prisoners seek early release for crack cocaine crimes

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is President Biden's nominee for Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is President Biden’s nominee for Supreme Court

Ketanji Brown Jackson, the federal appeals court judge who President Joe Biden is poised to nominate to become the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, brings a diverse set of experiences to the bench, including a stint representing low-income criminal defendants.

Jackson, 51, who Biden last year appointed to an influential Washington-based appellate court, served early in her career as a Supreme Court clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer, whose retirement announced in January opens up a vacancy on the nation’s top judicial body.

As a member of the federal judiciary, Jackson has earned respect from liberals and conservatives alike and is well-connected in the close-knit Washington legal community. Progressives favored her nomination over the other leading candidates: South Carolina-based U.S. District Court judge J. Michelle Childs and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.

The Senate voted 53-44 in June last year to confirm Jackson as a member of the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In her short time on the appeals court, she has authored two majority opinions, including one in favor of public sector unions challenging a regulation issued during Republican former President Donald Trump’s administration that restricted their bargaining power.

She was part of a three-judge panel that ruled in December against Trump’s bid to prevent White House records from being handed over to the House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters. The Supreme Court on Jan. 20 declined to block that decision.

Jackson also was part of a three-judge panel that refused last August to block the Biden administration’s COVID-19 pandemic-related residential eviction moratorium, a decision that was later overturned by the Supreme Court.

‘PRESIDENTS ARE NOT KINGS’

Jackson previously won Senate confirmation in 2013 after Democratic former President Barack Obama nominated her as a Washington-based federal district judge. In her eight years in that role, she handled a number of high-profile cases including one in which she ruled that Trump’s one-time chief White House lawyer, Donald McGahn, had to comply with a congressional subpoena for testimony about potential Trump obstruction of a special counsel investigation.

‘The primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings,’ Jackson wrote.

The ruling was appealed and, after Biden took office, a settlement was reached. McGahn testified behind closed doors.

he Honorable Sri Srinivasan, left, the Honorable Judge David Tatel who sit on U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, center, and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who sits on U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia walk into a ceremonial courtroom of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

he Honorable Sri Srinivasan, left, the Honorable Judge David Tatel who sit on U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, center, and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who sits on U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia walk into a ceremonial courtroom of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

In other decisions, Jackson in 2019 blocked Trump’s plan to expedite removal of certain immigrants and in 2018 ruled against his administration’s proposal to make it easier to fire federal employees – decisions later reversed by the appellate court on which she now serves.

Biden had pledged during the 2020 presidential election campaign to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court. It has had only two Black justices, both men: Clarence Thomas, appointed in 1991 and still serving, and Thurgood Marshall, who retired in 1991 and died in 1993.

During her April 2021 confirmation hearing for her current job, Jackson said her background, both personal and professional, would ‘bring value’ to the bench, though she rejected suggestions by Republican senators that race could affect her rulings.

‘I’ve experienced life in perhaps a different way than some of my colleagues because of who I am,’ Jackson said.

Three Republican senators joined Biden’s fellow Democrats in voting to confirm Jackson.

Jackson would become the sixth woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court, joining current members Amy Coney Barrett, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the retired Sandra Day O’Connor and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

‘PROFESSIONAL VAGABOND’

Biden has sought to bring more women and minorities and a broader range of backgrounds to a federal judiciary dominated by jurists who had been corporate lawyers or prosecutors.

Jackson was raised in Miami and attended Harvard University, where she once shared a scene in a drama class with future Hollywood star Matt Damon, before graduating from Harvard Law School in 1996.

Jackson in 2017 described herself as a ‘professional vagabond’ earlier in her legal career, moving from job to job as she sought a work-life balance while raising a family. She and husband Patrick Jackson, a surgeon, have two daughters.

She worked from 2005 to 2007 as a court-appointed lawyer paid by the government to represent criminal defendants who could not afford counsel. Among her clients was Khi Ali Gul, an Afghan detainee at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The United States sent him back to Afghanistan in 2014 when she was no longer involved in the case.

Jackson worked from 2002 to 2004 for Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer known for overseeing compensation programs including one for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

She also had two separate stints at the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which issues guidance to judges on criminal sentencing, including a four year stint starting in 2010 as the Senate-confirmed vice chair.

Jackson in 2020 paid tribute to Breyer during a virtual conference in which they both participated, saying he ‘opened doors of opportunities’ not just through his judicial decisions but also by hiring a diverse group of law clerks.

‘As a descendant of slaves,’ Jackson added, ‘let me just say that, Justice (Breyer), your thoughtfulness in that regard has made a world of difference.’

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is married to a Washington D.C. surgeon and has two kids

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is married to a Washington D.C. surgeon and has two kids

FAMILY MATTERS 

Jackson has personal experience with the federal system.

Her distant uncle, Thomas Brown Jr., was serving a life sentence in Florida for a nonviolent drug crime. He wrote to her asking for help with his case.

He was sentenced to life under a ‘three strikes’ law. After a referral from Jackson, the powerhouse law firm Wilmer Hale took his case pro bono, and President Barack Obama years later commuted his sentence. 

When Obama appointed her to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, she helped rewrite guidelines to reduce recommended penalties for drug-related offenses.

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. Her father would later become an attorney with the Miami-Dade County School Board and her mother a principal at a public magnet school.

She and her husband, Patrick Jackson, a surgeon at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, have two daughters.

She is related by marriage to former House Speaker Paul Ryan. Jackson’s husband is the twin brother of Ryan’s brother-in-law.

‘Janna and I are incredibly happy for Ketanji and her entire family,’ Ryan tweeted on Friday. ‘Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character, and for her integrity, is unequivocal.’ 

– Reuters and Associated Press 

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, would not change the ideological balance of the Supreme Court if confirmed by the Senate.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, would not change the ideological balance of the Supreme Court if confirmed by the Senate. 

Jackson would be the current court’s second Black justice – conservative Justice Clarence Thomas is the other – and just the third in history. 

She was part of the Biden administration’s first slate of judicial nominations last year. 

The Senate confirmed her to the D.C. Circuit in June on a vote of 53-44, with support from all 50 members of the Democratic caucus and Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. 

Graham, however, took a negative tone about Jackson’s nomination. He was an advocate for Michelle Childs, a federal judge in his home state of South Carolina.

The Republican senator, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Jackson’s nomination ‘means the radical Left has won President Biden over yet again. The attacks by the Left on Judge Childs from South Carolina apparently worked.’

‘I expect a respectful but interesting hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Harvard-Yale train to the Supreme Court continues to run unabated,’ he wrote on Twitter.

Advocates for Childs pointed to her state university background and more diversified experience. 

But Republican Senator John Cornyn, who also sits on the judiciary panel, said Jackson would get fair treatment.

‘No matter what, Judge Jackson will be given the dignity and respect she deserves. The American people will see a starkly different process from the treatment of Justice Kavanaugh and other judicial nominees during the previous Administration,’ he said in a statement. 

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he looks forward to meeting with Jackson and ‘studying her record, legal views, and judicial philosophy.’ But he also appeared to express skepticism, noting he voted against her a year ago. 

In its announcement of Jackson’s nomination, the White House noted she’s had bipartisan support in the past: ‘Judge Jackson has been confirmed by the Senate with votes from Republicans as well as Democrats three times.’ 

Jackson replaced Merrick Garland on the D.C. bench after he left the judiciary to become attorney general. 

She also worked as one of Breyer’s law clerks early in her legal career. She attended Harvard as an undergraduate and for law school.

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

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, center, talks with D.C. high school students who have come to observe a reenactment of a landmark Supreme court case at U.S. Court of Appeals in December

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, center, talks with D.C. high school students who have come to observe a reenactment of a landmark Supreme court case at U.S. Court of Appeals in December

In a 1996 photo (from left), Antoinette Coakley, Nina Coleman, Lisa Fairfax and Ketanji Brown Jackson

In a 1996 photo (from left), Antoinette Coakley, Nina Coleman, Lisa Fairfax and Ketanji Brown Jackson

Friday marks the two-year anniversary of Joe Biden's promise to name a black woman to the Supreme Court

Friday marks the two-year anniversary of Joe Biden’s promise to name a black woman to the Supreme Court

Leondra Kruger, 45, who sits on the California Supreme Court

Michelle Childs, 55, a federal district court judge from Columbia, South Carolina

Biden also considered Leondra Kruger, 45, who sits on the California Supreme Court, (left) and Michelle Childs, 55, a federal district court judge from Columbia, South Carolina (right)

Jackson has personal experience with the federal system.

Her distant uncle, Thomas Brown Jr., was serving a life sentence in Florida for a nonviolent drug crime. He wrote to her asking for help with his case.

He was sentenced to life under a ‘three strikes’ law. After a referral from Jackson, the powerhouse law firm Wilmer Hale took his case pro bono, and President Barack Obama years later commuted his sentence. 

When Obama appointed her to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, she helped rewrite guidelines to reduce recommended penalties for drug-related offenses.

Additionally, Jackson’s brother, Ketajh Brown, served with the Baltimore Police Department from October 2001 through May 2008 in undercover drug stings.

One of her uncles was Miami’s police chief, and another was a sex crimes detective.

As a trial court judge, Jackson ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to appear before Congress, declaring ‘presidents are not kings.’ 

Presidents, she wrote, ‘do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.’ 

That was a setback to former President Donald Trump´s efforts to keep his top aides from testifying before lawmakers. The case was appealed, and a deal was ultimately reached for McGahn´s testimony.

Another highly visible case that Jackson oversaw involved the online conspiracy theory ‘pizzagate,’ which revolved around false internet rumors about prominent Democrats harboring child sex slaves at a Washington pizza restaurant. 

A North Carolina man showed up at the restaurant with an assault rifle and a revolver. Jackson called it ‘sheer luck’ no one was injured and sentenced him to four years in prison. 

Jackson also issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that blocked the Trump administration from expanding its power to deport migrants who illegally entered the United States by using a fast-track process. 

Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman to the Supreme Court Source link Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman to the Supreme Court

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