Meet Ketanji Brown Jackson, first black woman to become US Supreme Court judge

The United States Senate has confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson as an associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. This makes her the first black woman in the United States to accomplish this achievement, and she has a long and famous career behind her.

On April 7, 2022, Jackson was confirmed by the Senate, with all 50 Democrats and 3 republicans voting in favor and 47 Republicans voting against her candidacy.

Jackson’s appointment to the D.C. Circuit, the second most powerful federal court in the country after the Supreme Court, was seen as a stepping stone to a possible promotion to the Supreme Court.

Biden introduced Jackson as his choice for associate justice of the Supreme Court on February 25, 2022. On February 28, her nomination was delivered to the Senate.

Here are the things you need to know about Ketanji Brown.

KBJ’s Early life

Jackson was born Ketanji Onyika Brown in Washington, D.C. on September 14, 1970. Both of her parents attended historically Black colleges and universities. Her father, Johnny Brown, was an attorney who eventually became the top attorney for the Miami-Dade County School Board, and her mother, Ellery, was the principal at New World School of the Art.

Jackson attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Miami, Florida, and graduated in 1988. She earned the national oratory title in the National Catholic Forensic League championships in New Orleans during her senior year. “[Wanting] to go into law and eventually acquire a judicial position,” she said in her high school yearbook.

Her education

Jackson studied government at Harvard University, During college, she performed improv comedy and took classes in drama, and led protests against a student who displayed a Confederate flag from his dorm window. Jackson graduated from Harvard in 1992 with an A.B. magna cum laude, having written a senior thesis entitled “The Hand of Oppression: Plea Bargaining Processes and the Coercion of Criminal Defendants”

She worked as a staff reporter and researcher for Time magazine from 1992 to 1993, then attended Harvard Law School, where she was a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. She graduated in 1996 with a Juris Doctor cum laude

From 1996 to 1997, Jackson worked as a law clerk for Judge Patti B. Saris of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and from 1997 to 1998, he worked as a law clerk for Judge Bruce M. Selya of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. She worked for a year in private practice at Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin (now part of Baker Botts) in Washington, D.C., before clerking for Justice Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court from 1999 to 2000.

Careers

U.S. Sentencing Commission

The U.S. Senate confirmed Jackson by unanimous consent on February 11, 2010 and served on the Sentencing Commission until 2014.

During her tenure on the Commission, the Sentencing Guidelines were retroactively revised to reduce the guideline range for crack cocaine offenses, and the “drugs minus two” amendment was approved, which reduced drug offenses by two offense levels.

District Court

She was confirmed to serve as a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by the full Senate by voice vote on March 22, 2013. She received her commission on March 26, 2013 and was sworn in by Justice Breyer in May 2013.

During her time on the District Court, Jackson wrote multiple decisions adverse to the positions of the Trump administration. In her opinion ordering Trump’s former White House counsel Donald McGahn to comply with a legislative subpoena, she wrote “presidents are not kings”.

In the 2013 American Meat Institute v. U.S. Department of Agriculture , Jackson rejected the meat packing industry’s request for a preliminary injunction to block a U.S. Department of Agriculture rule requiring them to identify animals’ country of origin. Jackson found that the rule likely did not violate the First Amendment.

Court of Appeals sojourn

On March 30, 2021, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Jackson to serve as a United States circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.During her confirmation hearing, Jackson was questioned about several of her rulings against the Trump administration.

She received her judicial commission on June 17, 2021.Jackson’s first decision as a court of appeals judge invalidated a 2020 rule by the Federal Labor Relations Authority that had restricted the bargaining power of federal-sector labor unions.

Kentaji Brown Jackson’s personal life

The new Justice of the US Supreme Court got married to surgeon Patrick Graves Jackson in 1996. The couple have two daughters, Leila and Talia.

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