On Feb. 25, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a former public defender and current federal appeals judge in Washington, D.C., to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
Jackson, 51, served as one of Breyer’s law clerks during the 1999-2000 term.
If confirmed, she will be the first black woman ever to sit on the Supreme Court, fulfilling a promise Biden made during the 2020 presidential campaign to further diversify the high court.
“For too long, our government and our courts haven’t looked like America,” Biden said while formally announcing Jackson’s nomination at the White House.
But not everyone agreed with the criteria by which Biden selected Jackson.
“People will assume that she got the position because of her color and not because of her qualifications,” Ben Carson, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told The Daily Signal. “That may not be the case, but that will be a natural assumption.”
Carson pointed out that many women—of various races and ethnicities—meet the qualifications for Supreme Court membership. By limiting the selection process, he argued that Biden “violate[d] the whole concept of fairness and equality.”
Biden’s choice set in motion what was expected to be a polarized confirmation process in a Senate with 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two liberal independents.
Jackson has been a federal judge for nine years and was appointed last year by Biden to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. During her confirmation hearings last spring, she faced a barrage of questions from Senate Republicans, of whom only three voted in her favor.
Her addition to the Supreme Court would not fundamentally shift the court’s 6-3 conservative majority balance. But if she proves to be ideologically to the left of Breyer, it could reshape the three-member liberal minority and alter the court in more subtle ways.
Among those praising Jackson’s nomination was the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s most powerful LGBTQ advocacy group, as well as abortion-rights groups.
Kevin Roberts, president of the conservative public policy think tank The Heritage Foundation, alluded to as much in his reaction to Biden’s pick.
“There are few decisions more important for a president than the selection of a Supreme Court nominee,” he posted on Twitter. “In this Biden has utterly failed, starting with his criteria for making this appointment. Judges should play a limited role in our government, yet Jackson’s far-left supporters want her to impose a political agenda that invents new rights or erases rights she doesn’t like. Based on the information we already know, senators should reject her for this lifetime appointment.”
In 2001, Jackson co-authored a “friend of the court” brief in the case of McGuire v. Reilly, in which she supported a Massachusetts law that created a floating “buffer zone” around pedestrians and cars approaching abortion clinics. Jackson’s clients included the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters, the Abortion Access Project of Massachusetts and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Later, NARAL and the pro-abortion National Women’s Law Center strongly supported her nomination to the
This June, the Supreme Court is expected to announce a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case which involves a Mississippi law that bans almost all abortions in the state after the 15th week of pregnancy. In addition to asking that the law be upheld, Mississippi has also urged the high court to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationally in 1973, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that the Constitution protects the right to abortion before a preborn baby becomes viable.
While Jackson would likely not join the bench until after the court rules in Dobbs, she would play a critical role in both interpreting and applying that decision.
As expected, many pro-life organizations opposed Jackson’s nomination. March for Life, which was one of the first, urged members of the Senate to reject “this extreme nominee.”
“Based on her record of judicial activism … we expect [Jackson] to be a reliable vote for the far left and the Biden administration’s radical abortion agenda,” the organization wrote in a press release.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, also expressed her dissatisfaction with Biden’s nominee.
“Joe Biden is fulfilling his promise to only appoint justices who support the Roe v. Wade regime of abortion on demand up to birth—a policy so extreme only a handful of countries in the world hold it, including North Korea and China,” she said in a press release. “Ketanji Brown Jackson is backed by many of America’s most radical pro-abortion groups. She is on record opposing the free speech rights of pro-life advocates pleading to save lives outside abortion centers and supporting the false claim that abortion is ‘health care.’ We have no doubt she will work with the most pro-abortion administration in history to enshrine abortion on demand nationwide in the law.”
Following Amy Coney Barrett’s four-week confirmation process in 2020, Democrats have signaled they plan to follow a similar timeline, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin saying that he expects Jackson to be confirmed by mid-April.
Above: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson after her nomination at the White House on Feb. 25.
Photo: Mike Theiler/UPI/Newscom