Who is Kentanji Brown Jackson?


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Photo of Kentanji Brown Jackson

On April 7, 2022, Kentanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to take retiring Justice Stephen Breyer’s place in the Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to be a Supreme Court Justice. 


President Joe Biden nominated Jackson on February 15, 2022. However, there was much opposition regarding her nomination, mainly from the Republican party. Many insisted that she was a liberal extremist. In fact, after the vote, Mitch McConnell stated, “When it came to one of the most consequential decisions a president can make, a lifetime appointment to our highest court, the Biden administration let the radicals run the show” (Karni). Also citing her previous 2013 child pornography case in which 19 year old Wesley Hawkins was sentenced to three months in prison and six years under supervision, many Republicans critized Jackson’s dependability to make just, careful decisions, arguing her verdict in the case was much too lenient for such a terrible act. Nevertheless, Jackson was confirmed through a 53 to 47 vote, with three Republicans joining all fifty Democrats in the Senate to vote in her favor, them being Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah. 


Ketanji Brown Jackson has also proven to be a role model for many students. Maegha Ramanathan, a freshman at Dublin High School, notes, “it is very rare to see such an amazing person like her! She is really influential and inspirational as a woman in law, especially as she is now receiving such a high position as Supreme Justice.” 


Born in Washington DC to a couple who experienced segregation and discrimination, Jackson developed a love for law from an early age from her father who pursued his dream by quitting his job as a history teacher and remaining resilient to not be hindered by his late start. “In a 2017 lecture, Judge Jackson traces [it] back to sitting next to her father in their apartment as he tackled his law school homework – reading cases and preparing for Socratic questioning – while she undertook her preschool homework – coloring books” (The White House). Being a successful student throughout her education, Jackson ultimately went to Harvard, although she did receive much disapproval from her guidance counselor. She graduated magna cum laude here and attended Harvard Law School as well. Then, Jackson moved on to clerk two federal judges, one of them being Justice Breyer. In 2003, she entered a job with the bipartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission, and became vice-chair in 2010. Barack Obama then nominated her for the U.S. District Court in 2012, which the Senate confirmed in 2013. Here, she judged many cases, including her case in late 2019, in which she handled previous President Donald Trump’s White House counsel Donald McGahn’s case. The House of Representatives put out a lawsuit against him, hoping to enforce a subpoena, or the act of complying with orders issued by the court, to disprove Trump’s argument that he and his counsel could ignore Congressional subpoena. In response, Justice Jackson made the powerful, famous comment that “Presidents are not kings.” 


The American nation has yet to see what newly appointed Justice Jackson will do for the Supreme Court, but it seems she will be a positive addition.