07 Apr Her Honor, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
By Marsha Mitchell | Director of Communications
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson spoke her truth to power with poise and sincerity during the recent Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. Her endurance inspired us all, especially when the process devolved into offensive attempts to discredit her. Now, Judge Jackson will serve as the 116th justice and the first Black woman on the Supreme Court in its 233-year history.
Justice Jackson joins Constance Baker Motley—the first Black woman to serve as a federal judge; and Amalya Lyle Kearse—the first Black woman to be appointed as a federal appellate judge—as barrier-breaking jurists. Only 4.7 percent of lawyers are Black, and just 70 Black women have ever served as a federal judge, representing fewer than 2 percent of all such judges. The trio represents a North Star for the next generation of women and girls who dream of careers in the judiciary.
“I stand on the shoulders of so many who have come before me, including Judge Constance Baker Motley, the first African-American woman to be appointed to the federal bench,” Jackson explained during the hearings. “And like Judge Motley, I have dedicated my career to ensuring that the words engraved on the front of the Supreme Court building, ‘Equal justice under law,’ are a reality and not just an idea.”
Jackson also makes history as the first former public defender selected to the top court, having been a federal public defender in Washington, D.C., as an appointee of President Barack Obama. As a result, she will be one of the most qualified justices to serve. She earned her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard and previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. President Joe Biden elevated her to the D.C. Circuit Court in 2021.
In January of this year, the President vowed to nominate a Black woman to replace the retiring Justice Breyer, an action which Biden said: “was long overdue.” Of the 120 justices who have sat on the Supreme Court, 117 have been white, and 115 have been men.
“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s appointment is a momentous day for this country,” said Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, Community Coalition’s Executive Vice President. “What a special and historic day! I hope that the next generation has many more of these celebratory moments.”
After two devastating pandemic years, a global reckoning for social justice, and the exposure of deep fissures related to economic inequality in America, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s appointment to the highest court in the land is a much-needed promise fulfilled and confirmation that hope reigns supreme.