Biden’s Supreme Court pick, Ketanji Brown Jackson, would be first Black woman justice

Jackson in 2019 temporarily halted former President Donald Trump’s expedited deportation process, siding with a prominent New York-based immigrant advocacy group.

President Biden nominates Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to U.S. Supreme Court

President Biden nominates Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to U.S. Supreme Court Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Joe Biden will nominate Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit, to the Supreme Court, he announced Friday. If confirmed, Jackson would be the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice, fulfilling a campaign promise made by Biden.

Prior to her appointment to the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in June, Jackson, 51, served as a U.S. district judge and worked as a federal prosecutor. She would replace Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced last month he is retiring, and would be one of three liberal justices on the court. At one point, Jackson clerked for Breyer during his 27-year career.

“I’m proud to announce that I am nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court,” Biden tweeted Friday. ”Currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, she is one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice.”

Jackson, a two-time Harvard grad who grew up in Miami, also served as vice-chair of former President Barack Obama’s Sentencing Commission and was reportedly in the running to fill former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat when he died in 2016. 

In 2019, Jackson issued an opinion in a lawsuit filed by prominent New York-based immigrant advocacy group Make The Road New York that temporarily halted the Trump administration’s expedited deportation process. The decision was ultimately reversed by the D.C. Circuit.

Democrats praised Biden following the Friday announcement. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Jackson “will be a Justice who will uphold the Constitution and protect the rights of all Americans, including the voiceless and vulnerable,” he tweeted. “As the first Black woman Supreme Court Justice in the Court’s 232-year-history, she will inspire countless future generations of Americans.”  

New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie commended Biden and noted Jackson “will also become the first former federal public defender to serve on the Court,” he said in a statement. “I am confident that her background will make her uniquely suited to protect our Constitution and ensure equal justice under the law.”

The New York State Bar Association also lauded the pick. “Ketanji Brown Jackson brings an unparalleled breadth of legal experience to the Supreme Court. She has been a law clerk to Justice Breyer, federal public defender, associate to distinguished law firms and a federal trial court judge. Her historic appointment underscores the importance of diversity and equity. The judiciary must reflect the people it serves,” Bar Association President Andrew Brown said in a statement. “We congratulate the President on an inspiring choice.”