Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday was sworn in as a United States Supreme Court Justice, the first black woman to ascend to the highest court in the land.
The 51-year-old’s swearing-in came minutes after Justice Stephen Breyer officially retired. He had served on the court for almost 28 years.
Like Breyer, Jackson is a liberal jurist, and liberal activist groups and lawmakers heralded her nomination and her confirmation to the court as a massive victory.
“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God,” Jackson said in a statement on Thursday. “I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation.”
“I extend my sincerest thanks to all of my new colleagues for their warm and gracious welcome,” she continued.
The new justice described Breyer as a “personal friend and mentor” and thanked him for his guidance.
“In the wake of his exemplary service,” she concluded, “with the support of my family and friends, and ever mindful of the duty to promote the Rule of Law, I am well-positioned to serve the American people.”
Like most recent Supreme Court nominees, Jackson’s confirmation hearings were marked by a serious and at times contentious examination of her judicial record.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) had raised concerns in March that Jackson’s record demonstrates that she “has a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes.” The senator’s warning prompted Republicans to call for a full investigation of her past rulings, and Jackson was heavily questioned about her stances during her confirmation hearings.
Jackson’s confirmation to the Court was backed by Demand Justice, an organization that reportedly has ties to the influential progressive dark money group Arabella Advisors, which advocates for court-packing and has repeatedly orchestrated campaigns attempting to sway the justices on high-profile cases.
When the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in May, Demand Justice Executive Director Brian Fallon praised the unprecedented leak, saying, “SCOTUS leaks are good. Elite lawyers on both the left and right treating the Court as precious all these years have just been giving cover to an institution that is wholly unaccountable. Rip the veil off.”
This sentiment was echoed in a tweet from the day before, “All Democrats need to show the same urgency as the clerk who apparently risked his or her career to sound this alarm,” he urged. “Those on the inside know best how broken the institution is. We should listen.”
Demand Justice launched an April 2021 campaign to pressure Breyer to step down and make way for the first black female Supreme Court justice (Jackson was already considered the top candidate at the time).
Fallon, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), insisted in April 2021 that it was “worrisome that Justice Breyer has not said yet that he will step down,” according to The Hill.
“It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law,” Breyer said in a Wednesday letter addressed to Biden.
“This past January, I wrote to inform you of my intent to retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, upon the Court rising for its summer recess,” he wrote.
“You have nominated and the United States Senate has confirmed the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson to succeed me in the office, and I understand that she is prepared to take the prescribed oaths to begin her service as the 116th member of this Court.”