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Ketanji Brown Jackson to be First Black Woman on Supreme Court 

by Maggie McLeod

Photo courtesy of The White House

After 232 years and 115 prior appointments, Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first black woman to serve as a justice of the United States Supreme Court. On April 7, by a vote of 53-47, President Joe Biden’s nomination was confirmed to replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breye.

Jackson, 51, went through a rigorous process, including a full day of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Jackson was a United States Circuit Judge in 2021, and before that, was a United States District Judge from 2013 to 2021. Due to her past position as judge, Jackson was ridiculed and questioned for her sentencing on particular cases. 

Sen.Josh Hawley (R-Miss.), cited seven cases where Jackson was purported to be more lenient with sentencing cases related to child pornography and sex offenders. 

“As a mother, as a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth,” Jackson said in response to Sen. Hawley. 

Sen.Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) asked Judge Jackson if she could “provide a definition for the word ‘woman.’” This question, among many other social issues covered during the hearing, was not linked to any specific case. Jackson reminded the committee that she is “not a biologist.”

Biden’s support for Jackson stemmed from her list of credentials. Biden said he was looking for “someone extremely qualified, with a brilliant legal mind, with the utmost character and integrity, which are equally as important.” 

Jackson studied government and received her law degree at Harvard University. She achieved a career as both an attorney and juris, as well as serving eight and a half years on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals. 

Jackson becoming the first black woman on the United States Supreme Court has given Vice President, Kamala Harris, confidence that Jackson will make history. 

“And, Judge Jackson, you will inspire generations of leaders. They will watch your confirmation hearings and read your decisions.” Harris said. 

To many, Jackson brings a fresh perspective as a black woman who understands racial injustice on a personal level, as well as bringing in an unshakable moral compass and wisdom, due to her background as a former judge.

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