By Micha Green,
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor,
mgreen@afro.com

She’s got “Sisterlocks” in her hair, rich, brown skin and her name is of Indian origin meaning, “Pure Gold,” “Mark,” “Sign,” “Dwelling,” or “Home,” and now she is about to have a lifetime title- Supreme Court Justice.  Keeping good on his campaign promise two years ago today, President Joe Biden has nominated a Black woman to serve as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, of the federal appeals court. Jackson’s barrier breaking selection is significant not just on the last Friday of Black History month, but it is monumental as she is about to hold a history-making seat on the highest Court in a country that Constitutionally once ruled her race less than human.

“I’m proud to announce that I am nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court. Currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, she is one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice,” President Biden tweeted a little after 10 a.m. on Friday morning.

“We commend President Biden for honoring his pledge to nominate a Black woman as the next Associate Justice to the United States Supreme Court, and we congratulate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on her historic nomination — a long-overdue moment for our nation,” said President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) Sherrilyn Ifill said.

Jackson’s resume makes her a perfect fit for this position.  She is a double Harvard graduate (undergraduate and Law School) and even worked as law clerk to retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, whose seat she is replacing with this nomination to the Court.  She worked as an assistant public defender in Washington, D.C. from 2005 to 2007. President Barack Obama nominated her for multiple roles including: the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2009 ( confirmed by the U.S. Senate  in February 2010) and as a federal trial court judge in D.C. in 2012 (confirmed by the U.S Senate in March 2013). Biden elevated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a position she has held since June 2021. She also was one of the three judges who ruled against former President Donald Trump’s effort to shield documents from the House’s investigation on the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.  

Moreover, if working for the very man who she is replacing and having multiple Presidential appointments is not enough for her resume, Jackson, 51, is also plugged even further into U.S. politics.  Jackson is sort of related to former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, whose brother in law is the twin brother of Jackson’s husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson.  

Sis is smart and has a wealth of experience in multiple levels of the Court.  Jackson was not nominated because she was a Black woman, she was selected because she is certainly highly qualified.  Being a Black woman just happens to be the cherry on top.

“Ketanji Brown Jackson is highly qualified and has a proven record of fighting for human and civil rights.  More importantly, Ketanji Brown Jackson has a distinguished career and an exemplary record of service serving on the bench of the second highest court in the country and as a federal public defender,” said In Our Own Voice: National Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO Marcela Howell.

Judge Jackson’s nomination is also a celebration in representation.

“Thanks to President Biden’s commitment to increasing racial and professional diversity on the bench, more children of all backgrounds can imagine themselves reaching the highest heights in public service,” said Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International President Mary Kay Henry.

Many organizations such as In Our Own Voice: National Reproductive Justice Agenda, National Action Network (NAN) and the NAACP LDF are also urging the U.S. Senate to quickly confirm Jackson, in order to expediently add someone to the Court that helps better reflect the diversity within the United States.

“We believe that in order to make decisions that impact all Americans, the U.S. Supreme Court should reflect the values and lived experiences of all Americans, not just the politics of a few. This historic nomination is an important step in that direction. And Ketanji Brown Jackson can make that a reality,” Howell of In Our Own Voice: National Reproductive Justice Agenda said.

“We urge the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to immediately hold hearings. We call on the U.S. Senate to bring the nomination to a vote without delay. We also call on Sen. Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership to join their Democratic colleagues in ensuring that Ketanji Brown Jackson receives an expedient and fair vote,” Howell emphasized.

“Creating that diversity on the Court requires deconstructing many barriers that steer Black women and other underrepresented groups away from that path. It means we will become closer to equality and normalizes having a Black woman appointed to the bench without facing greater scrutiny than her White counterparts, selected based on her experience and accomplishments without gender or racial bias. Our democracy is stronger when the judiciary comprises judges whose backgrounds speak to the full breadth of the American experience,” said NAN Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategic Partnerships Ebonie Riley in a statement.

“We expect the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct a fair and swift confirmation for this qualified Supreme Court Justice Nominee,” the NAN statement continued.

“Diversity on our nation’s highest court sends a powerful message to the country that our justice system is informed by a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, which is critical to ensuring the legitimacy of the Court in a multicultural nation,” Ifill said.

“We now call on the United States Senate, as it fulfills its constitutional duty to provide its advice and consent on judicial nominations, to ensure that Judge Jackson receives a prompt, full, and fair hearing,” the NAACP LDF Director-Counsel added.

The NAACP LDF said it will be providing a list of Jackson’s civil rights track record.

“As we have done for numerous Supreme Court nominees for more than 30 years, LDF will prepare a report summarizing the civil rights record of Judge Jackson, after a close review of her judicial decisions, legal work, writings, and other professional service,” Ifill said in a statement.

While organizations like LDF will be holding Jackson’s approach to justice accountable, other organizations and Black women alike will also be looking at the United States and SCOTUS to ensure that this groundbreaking woman is treated accordingly.

“As the Senate takes up Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic nomination, the nation will be watching to make sure she is treated fairly and judged on the strengths of her accomplishments and character — and nothing else,” said SEIU’s Henry.

“Today, we celebrate the first Black woman nominated to the highest court in the land. Tomorrow, Black women will be watching to ensure that Ketanji Brown Jackson is treated fairly and with the same deference and respect afforded other qualified nominees,” said the In Our Own Voice: National Reproductive Justice Agenda President.

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor