There is no doubt that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson brings stellar credentials to her nomination to become the newest justice on the United States Supreme Court. She earned her undergraduate degree and law school degree from Harvard. She has worked in a major law firm, a federal public defender, she clerked for three judges, including retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. Judge Jackson served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Prior to her current position as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, she was a district court judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Just as important as all these impressive professional achievements, Judge Jackson is a wife and a mother.
The Woman’s National Democratic Club applauds President Biden for this historic nomination. If confirmed, Judge Jackson’s presence on the court will bring the Court’s composition closer to reflecting the characteristics of the America that it serves. We are told that this nation is the land of opportunity; anyone reach the highest heights – if you work hard enough and play by the rules. Judge Jackson has done more than that. No sitting Supreme Court justice can match the breadth of her legal experience.
We look forward to the Senate confirmation hearings which are scheduled to begin on March 21, 2022. At this point, it appears that she has the support of the entire Democratic caucus. Several Republicans have signaled that they will not support her nomination. However, it is worth noting that since they cannot attack her nomination on substantive grounds, they are going for the superficial. After meeting with Judge Jackson, Senator Cornyn described her as “charming.” What male nominee for any Senate confirmed office has ever been described in such terms? While Cornyn acknowledged that she was well qualified, he stated that he did not vote in favor of her appoint to the federal circuit court of appeals because he determined that she was not forthcoming about her judicial philosophy. He is concerned that Supreme Court justices should not play a political role.
Cornyn must have forgotten her clear expression of her “judicial philosophy” in response to a question to her from him during her 2021 confirmation hearing for the judgeship she currently holds-
Cornyn: “since our Democratic colleagues seem to be placing so much emphasis on race,” he wanted to know something else. “What role does race play, Judge Jackson, in the kind of judge you have been and the kind of judge you will be?”
Without skipping a beat, Jackson said, “I don’t think that race plays a role in the kind of judge that I have been and that I would be in the way you asked that question.” I’m looking at the arguments, the facts and the law, I’m methodically and intentionally setting aside personal views, any other inappropriate considerations and I would think that race would be the kind of thing that would be inappropriate to inject in my evaluation of a case,” she continued.
“I would say that my different professional background than many of the court of appeals judges, including my district court background,” she said, “would bring value.”
“I’ve experienced life in perhaps a different way than some of my colleagues because of who I am and that might be valuable — I hope it would be valuable if I was confirmed to the circuit court, ” she added.
Other Republicans are planning to demand that she share her views on issues such as “court packing.” There is even talk that if she is confirmed, she should recuse herself from cases involving affirmative action. These concerns are very interesting given the fact that Justice Amy Coney Barrett garnered enthusiastic Republican support precisely because she was a known opponent of abortion rights.
Judge Jackson would not change the balance of the conservative/liberal composition of the court. Interesting, the “liberal wing” of the Supreme Court will be comprised of women; women who bring their unique brand of diversity to the court. Justice Kagan is Jewish, Justice Sotomayor is Latina, and if confirmed, Judge Jackson would be first African American woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. Women will shoulder the responsibility for ensuring the interests of humankind are reflected in the decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.
—Rosalyn Coates, Chair, Racial Equity Task Force