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Biden Picks Ketanji Brown Jackson to Replace Breyer on Supreme Court

As a candidate for president, Biden promised, two years ago to the day, to nominate a Black woman to the court.

Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

President Joe Biden has selected Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the next United States Supreme Court justice.

Biden was tasked with selecting a new justice after current Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement last month. In response to Breyer’s announcement, Biden reiterated his promise that he would select the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, a pledge he made as a candidate for president ahead of the South Carolina Democratic primary.

Jackson, 51, currently sits on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Her nomination was reported early Friday morning by CNN, who spoke to a source with knowledge of Biden’s selection.

Jackson has been heavily scrutinized by the Senate during her time as a judge; if confirmed, she would be the most-vetted justice to serve in a generation. She has faced confirmation hearings twice for federal judgeships, and was approved by the Senate once more for a seat on the U.S. Sentencing Commission. All three times, she received bipartisan approval.

Jackson, who is considered a progressive pick, has received accolades from some lawmakers across the political aisle, including from Sen. Lindsey Graham, a conservative Republican.

“I think she’s qualified for the job,” Graham recently said. “She has a different philosophy than I do, but it’s been that way the whole time.”

Jackson previously clerked for the justice she is set to replace. If confirmed by the Senate, she would become the first federal public defender to serve on the High Court, and the first justice since Thurgood Marshall to have criminal defense experience.

Progressive lawmakers lauded the decision.

“The first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court is a former public defender,” Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) said on Twitter in reaction to the news. “Our first voice on the Court in its 233 years has a career of standing up for those most in need.”

“I applaud the historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court,” added Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia). “It’s time the federal judiciary reflects the diversity of our country.”

While many far right lawmakers have blasted Biden for his promise to nominate a Black woman, most Americans support this measure, recent polling has found. An Economist/YouGov survey published this week found that 55 percent of respondents support Biden’s pledge, with 67 percent also saying that it’s important for there to be racial diversity on the Supreme Court.

Jackson was considered one of the most progressive choices among those Biden was considering, according to a Truthout analysis from Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Jackson is also well-known for having written an opinion on the D.C. Circuit Court rejecting a claim from lawyers for former President Donald Trump, who had alleged that he had absolute immunity from prosecution.

“Presidents are not kings,” Jackson wrote. “They do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.”

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