Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Confirmed to the Supreme Court

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(Feature Image: “Jackson in January 2022” by H2rty, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was recently confirmed to the Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman named to the nation’s highest court. Jackson is replacing Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. While her addition to the bench does not upset the conservative 6-3 lean, she will bring a new outlook as a former trial court judge and public defender. Let’s take a closer look at Justice Jackson’s education and career.

Early Beginnings

Ketanji Brown Jackson was born in Washington D.C. to her father Johnny and her mother Ellery, who were both graduates of historically black colleges and universities. Her father and mother were both motivated individuals; one a lawyer, and one a high school principal. She credits her passion for law back to preschool years, when she would color on the dining room table, next to her father who was studying law. It’s no surprise that she was quoted in her high school yearbook saying she wanted to pursue a career in law.

Jackson then studied government at Harvard University, where she participated in a protest over a student displaying a Confederate flag from a dorm window. In 1992, she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts. She then made her way to Harvard Law School, where she became a supervising editor for the Harvard Law Review and authored an article on prevention vs. punishment for sex offenders,[1]Prevention Versus Punishment: Toward a Principled Distinction in the Restraint of Released Sex Offenders, 109 HARV. L. REV. 1711 (1996). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library as well as a case note[2]108 HARV. L. REV 1405 (1995). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.[3]Relating to the control of organized crime in the United States., Public Law 91-452, 91 Congress. 84 Stat. 922 (1970). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Statutes at Large database She graduated in 1996 with a Juris Doctor cum laude. While Jackson currently serves on the Board at Harvard, she has already stated that she will recuse herself from the upcoming Harvard Supreme Court case to be heard in October this year.

Legal Career

After graduating from law school, Jackson worked as law clerk for Patti B. Sears and judge Bruce M. Selya before spending some time in private practice between 1996⁠—1998. From 1999⁠—2000, she clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Following Barack Obama’s nomination, Jackson was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the United States Sentencing Commission,[4]152 J. Exec. Proc. S. U.S. 25 (2010). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database and later in 2014 she was confirmed as judge[5]2015 Cong. Directory 851 (2015-2016). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. A few years later, Jackson replaced Judge Merrick Garland and was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals[6]167 Cong. Rec. S4503 (2021). for the District of Columbia. This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database when a cloture was invoked.[7]167 Cong. Rec. S4503 (2021). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database

Jackson was one of five candidates interviewed to fill the vacancy of Antonin Scalia back in 2016 during Barack Obama’s term. During Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, he promised to appoint a Black woman to the Court in the event of a vacancy. Shortly after Judge Stephen Breyer announced his retirement,[8]Administration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., 2022 Remarks on the Retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer , Daily Comp. Pres. Docs. 1 (2022). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Presidential Library President Biden announced that Jackson was his nominee.[9]Administration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., 2022 Remarks on the Nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson To Be a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice , Daily Comp. Pres. Docs. 1 (2022). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. … Continue reading

In addition to her many roles, Jackson serves on the board at Georgetown Day School and is a member of the Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Service and the Council of American Law Institute.[10]34 A.L.I. Rep. 1 (2012). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s American Law Institute Library.

image of Joe Biden and Ketanji Brown Jackson
Her opinions are always carefully reasoned, tethered to precedent, and demonstrate respect for how the law impacts everyday people.
Joe Biden | President of the United States

Notable Rulings

While serving on the D.C. Circuit Court, Judge Jackson authored 585 rulings.[11]1 2 (February 28, 2022)
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson: Selected Primary Material. This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database
Let’s take a brief look at some of her notable cases.

  • Committee on the Judiciary v. McGahn:[12]Comm. on Judiciary v. McGahn, 415 F.Supp.3d 148. This document can be found through HeinOnline’s Fastcase integration Jackson granted the committee’s motion for summary judgment, stating the committee’s suit was justiciable. During this case she was quoted saying presidents are not kings, and the case was eventually reversed.
image of excerpt from Trump v. Thompson
  • Trump v. Thompson:[13]Trump v. Thompson, 20 F.4th 10. This document can be found through HeinOnline’s Fastcase integration Jackson joined in the opinion that upheld the lower court decision which rejected Donald Trump’s effort to block the release of documents regarding the January 6th Capitol attack. The Supreme Court refused to intervene, with Clarence Thomas being the lone dissenter.
  • Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center v. Wolf:[14]Las Ams. Immigrant Advocacy Ctr. v. Wolf, 507 F. Supp. 3d 1. This document can be found through HeinOnline’s Fastcase integration In this ruling, various advocacy groups challenged the government’s policy of holding noncitizens in Customs and Border Protection facilities, claiming they were inhumane. While Jackson believed they had standing to bring the case, she noted they were not in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.[15]To revise the laws relating to immigration, naturalization, and nationality, and for other purposes., Public Law 82-414 / Chapter 477, 82 Congress. 66 Stat. 163 (1952) (1952). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Statutes at Large … Continue reading
  • Kiakombua v. Wolf:[16]Kiakombua v. Wolf, 498 F. Supp. 3d 1. This document can be found through HeinOnline’s Fastcase integration In this case, five noncitizens were subject to removal. Jackson ruled that the plaintiffs be provided with a new asylum using lawful standards, claiming changes that were made to the Credible Fear Lessons Plan had not been authorized by Congress.

History of Supreme Court Nominations

Soon, HeinOnline will be adding Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination hearings to the History of Supreme Court Nominations database, which includes the complete series Supreme Court of the U.S. Hearings and Reports on Successful and Unsuccessful Nominations of Supreme Court Justices by the Senate Judiciary Committee by Roy M. Mersky and J. Myron Jacobstein, and continued by Tobe Liebert and then William H. Manz. This ongoing series is considered to be the definitive documentary history of the nominations and confirmation process of both successful and unsuccessful nominations to the Court up through Amy Coney Barrett.

Each nomination includes relevant materials, such as:

  • Confirmation hearing and transcript on the nomination
  • Senate Judiciary Committee vote on the nomination
  • Memoranda drafted
  • Presidential statements
  • Resignation announcements
  • Pre-nomination speculation
  • Nomination announcement
  • Confirmation date

The Browse by Justice option allows users to link directly to relevant content for each justice. Also included are more than 350 titles related to the Supreme Court, links to scholarly articles, and bibliographies.

image of History of Supreme Court Nominations database

But Wait, There’s More!

For even more content, check out these blog posts on the Supreme Court:

HeinOnline Sources

HeinOnline Sources
1 Prevention Versus Punishment: Toward a Principled Distinction in the Restraint of Released Sex Offenders, 109 HARV. L. REV. 1711 (1996). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library
2 108 HARV. L. REV 1405 (1995). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library
3 Relating to the control of organized crime in the United States., Public Law 91-452, 91 Congress. 84 Stat. 922 (1970). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Statutes at Large database
4 152 J. Exec. Proc. S. U.S. 25 (2010). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database
5 2015 Cong. Directory 851 (2015-2016). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database
6 167 Cong. Rec. S4503 (2021). for the District of Columbia. This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database
7 167 Cong. Rec. S4503 (2021). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database
8 Administration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., 2022 Remarks on the Retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer , Daily Comp. Pres. Docs. 1 (2022). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Presidential Library
9 Administration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., 2022 Remarks on the Nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson To Be a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice , Daily Comp. Pres. Docs. 1 (2022). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Presidential Library
10 34 A.L.I. Rep. 1 (2012). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s American Law Institute Library.
11 1 2 (February 28, 2022)
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson: Selected Primary Material. This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents database
12 Comm. on Judiciary v. McGahn, 415 F.Supp.3d 148. This document can be found through HeinOnline’s Fastcase integration
13 Trump v. Thompson, 20 F.4th 10. This document can be found through HeinOnline’s Fastcase integration
14 Las Ams. Immigrant Advocacy Ctr. v. Wolf, 507 F. Supp. 3d 1. This document can be found through HeinOnline’s Fastcase integration
15 To revise the laws relating to immigration, naturalization, and nationality, and for other purposes., Public Law 82-414 / Chapter 477, 82 Congress. 66 Stat. 163 (1952) (1952). This document can be found in HeinOnline’s U.S. Statutes at Large database
16 Kiakombua v. Wolf, 498 F. Supp. 3d 1. This document can be found through HeinOnline’s Fastcase integration
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