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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

WYSK: Ketanji Brown Jackson nominated for Supreme Court

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GRAPHIC: CASEY WOOD ’23/THE HAWK

On Feb. 25, Ketanji Brown Jackson was nominated by President Joe Biden to be the next Supreme Court Justice. 

Why is there a vacant seat on the Supreme Court? 

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who has served as an associate Supreme Court Justice since 1994, announced on Jan. 27 that he was retiring. Justice Breyer was Jackson’s mentor when she worked as his law clerk from 1999 to 2000. Justices are appointed to serve for life but may choose to retire. Of the previous 106 justices, 49 have died, 56 have retired and one was removed from office. The last justice to retire was Anthony M. Kennedy in 2018 after he served for 30 years.

Who is Ketanji Brown Jackson?

Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Miami, Florida. She attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School, a public high school. Her parents worked as public school teachers and administrators in the Miami-Dade Public School System.

Jackson received both her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University, where she was editor of the Harvard Law Review while a law student. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1996, Jackson served as the vice chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 2009 to 2014 and a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia from 2013 to 2021. Jackson is currently a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Why is Jackson’s nomination significant?

The 51-year-old would be the first Black woman ever appointed to the highest court of the United States. She would be the first Justice with a criminal defense background to serve since 1991 and the first with a background as a federal public defender.

Jackson’s confirmation would add the third member of color to the Supreme Court bench. She would join Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed to the bench under President George H.W. Bush in 1991, and Sonia Sotomayor, who was confirmed under President Barack Obama in 2009.

While Jackson would change the current configuration to a five-four divide between men and women, her confirmation would not affect the court’s conservative majority, which would stand at six to three. Three conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were confirmed under former President Donald J. Trump.

What happens next?

The confirmation process includes a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Jackson’s qualifications, prior judgments and political philosophy will be scrutinized. Next, the Committee will vote on a recommendation and send it to the Senate, where senators will engage in further debate. Senators will then vote on whether or not to confirm Jackson as Breyer’s replacement. 

If confirmed, Brown would take Justice Breyer’s seat on Oct. 3, when the new court term begins.

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