Who is Ketanji Brown Jackson?


Oliver Contreras

Ketanji Brown Jackson talking at the White House on Feb. 25, 2022

Cherie Laethem

Joe Biden promised during his campaign that if given the chance he would nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court, and this promise helped him get into office. When Justice Stephen Breyer retried, the president was given the perfect opportunity to fulfill this campaign promise. After much consideration, he picked Ketanji Brown Jackson, who he has nominated but who has yet to be confirmed by the senate. Many of the people have never heard of a Supreme Court nominee before they are chosen, which leads them to ask a simple question, who are you?   


Ketanji Brown Jackson was born September 14, 1970, and was raised in Miami, Florida. Her father was Johnny Brown, a lawyer who became chief attorney for the Miami-Dade County School Board, and her mother was a school principal at  New World School of the Arts. She won the national oratory title at the National Catholic Forensic League Championships, an important debate tournament, in her senior year of high school. She went to Harvard, where she led protests against a student who had a confederate flag in his window and achieved academic success. Afterwards, she went to Harvard Law school, and graduated in 1996.


After that, Jackson was a law clerk with a few different judges from 1996 to 1998. She started to work for a law firm for a year before she became a law clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer, the man she might replace on the Supreme Court in the near future. She then returned to private practice from 2000 to 2003, and became an assistant special counsel to the United States Sentencing Commission, then became an assistant federal public defender where she handled cases before U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.


In 2012 President Obama nominated Jackson to be a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The senate confirmed her and she was sworn in by Justice Breyer. She ruled on many important cases, and is liberal leaning judge who has made important rulings against the Trump administration. She has also reduced sentences for drug crimes, a topic closer to her because her uncle was sentenced to life for a nonviolent cocaine conviction, which her father managed to convince a law firm to take on free and later President Obama commuted, or lessened, his sentence. Then just last year in March,  President Joe Biden nominated her for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit., and was confirmed. This was a big deal, because the U.S. Court of Appeals is second only to the Supreme Court.


Jackson’s nomination has not yet been confirmed. She is currently being questioned by the senate about her, her belfies, her decisions in the past, and more. The senate is currently split, with 50 republicans, 48 democrats, and two independents that tend to vote with the democrats. Because Jackson is liberal leaning it is likely few republicans vote for her. In the event of a tie, Vice President Kamala Harris will have the tie breaking vote, and it is pretty much certain she will vote for Jackson. It is uncertain if Jackson will be conformed, but if she is, it will be a historic moment. She will be the first black female justice ever in the history of the United States.