Ketanji Brown Jackson: Five Things To Know About Biden’s SCOTUS Pick
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, is sworn in to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on pending judicial nominations on Capitol Hill, April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. The committee is holding the hearing on pending judicial nominations.
Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images

Just two days after the eyes of the world turned to Eastern Europe as Russia launched a nationwide invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden announced that he was selecting Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

According to CNN, she received and accepted Biden’s offer in a call on Thursday night.

Here are five things you need to know about Biden’s Supreme Court pick.

She beat out several contenders

On multiple occasions, Biden echoed his presidential campaign pledge — to choose a black female running mate — when he promised that he would nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. In recent weeks, Democrats have floated several black women for SCOTUS, including Ketanji Brown Jackson, J. Michelle Childs, and Leondra Kruger. 

“Our process is going to be rigorous. I will select a nominee worthy of Justice Breyer’s legacy of excellence and decency,” Biden said in January. “While I’ve been studying candidates’ backgrounds and writings, I’ve made no decision except one: the person I nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity — and that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It’s long overdue, in my view.”

If confirmed, Jackson would be the first black woman on the Supreme Court. At the age of 51-years-old, Jackson would also be one of the youngest judges — with Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett being the youngest at the age of 50-years-old. 

An exemplary educational background

Jackson was born in 1970 in Washington, D.C., and moved with her family some years later to Florida. She graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Florida in 1988, “where other notable alumni include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, two-time U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, as well as a number of former Olympians and professional athletes.”

Jackson received a bachelor’s degree in government at Harvard University, and graduated in 1992. She also received her law degree from Harvard in 1996, serving as the supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review from 1995 to 1996.

Legal and judicial experience

Jackson was first nominated for a district court judgeship in Washington D.C. by President Barack Obama towards the end of his first term on September 20, 2012. Jackson was rated “Unanimously Qualified” for the nomination by the American Bar Association.

“I am pleased to nominate these distinguished individuals to serve on the United States District Court bench. I am confident they will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice,” Obama said of Jackson and two other nominations.

Jackson served as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, before being nominated by Joe Biden to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit less than one year ago, on April 19, 2021. Jackson was confirmed by a 53-44 vote of the U.S. Senate on June 14, 2021, with 48 Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor.

In addition, Jackson’s experience includes serving as Vice-Chair/Commissioner for the U.S. Sentencing Commission for 2010-2014, and clerking for Stephen Breyer in 1999-2000.

Guantanamo Bay

Working as a public defender from 2005 to 2007, Jackson was assigned to represent Khi Ali Gul, an Afghan detained in Guantanamo Bay in 2003 and released by President Obama in 2014 when she was no longer involved in the case.

“She also filed briefs in cases involving other Guantánamo detainees while working in private practice,” The Washington Post reported.

“In her 2012 hearing, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) invoked the issue and asked her to state whether she believed ‘that terrorists pose a danger to America’ and ‘that the United States is at war against terrorists.’ She responded affirmatively in both cases,” the Post continued. 

Notable decisions and overturned rulings

As Politico noted, “several of Jackson’s rulings were overturned by a higher court, including those on Trump’s attempt to fast-track deportations and executive orders constraining government unions’ power.”

“Judge Jackson’s record of reversals by the left-leaning D.C. Circuit is troubling for anyone concerned about the rule of law,” Judicial Crisis Network president Carrie Severino told Fox News Digital. “For example, in Make the Road New York v. Wolf, a D.C. Circuit panel composed of a majority of Democratic nominees concluded that Jackson had set aside a Trump administration rule where there was no legal basis to do so.”

“Cases like these suggest that Jackson might be willing in politically charged cases to ignore the law to deliver a particular policy outcome, and that’s not what we want to see from a Supreme Court justice,” she added.

One overturned case involved an ordered expansion of the Department of Homeland Security’s definition regarding which non-citizens could be deported, while another involved orders relating to the collective bargaining power of federal employees.

And perhaps Jackson’s biggest decision related to the separation of powers during the Trump administration.

In 2019, Congress was battling with Trump White House Counsel Donald McGahn about whether he should testify to the House Judiciary Committee,” The Washington Post explained. “The case came before Jackson, who soundly rejected McGahn’s arguments that he had immunity from testifying.”

It was during this case that Jackson wrote the following: “The primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings.”

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

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