UPDATED, 11:25 AM PT: Ketanji Brown Jackson debuted as President Joe Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court at a White House event that highlighted her personal biography and experience along with a nod to history.
Jackson, 51, would be the first Black woman to serve on the court.
“If I’m confirmed as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles was founded will inspire future generations,” Jackson said, with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris behind her.
The event was a major chance for Jackson to present herself to the public, as cable news networks covered it live and major broadcast networks did special reports.
Biden praised Jackson as someone who “strives to be fair, to get it right, to do justice. That is something all of us should remember. That is something I have thought about throughout this process.”
Biden noted her experience on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, making her unique among nominees, but also highlighted that she had a brother and two uncles serving as police officers. The president mentioned that the Fraternal Order of Police, at times in disagreement with Jackson on issues of criminal justice reform, issued a statement saying that there is “little doubt that she has the temperament, intellect, legal experience, and family background to have earned this appointment.”
That emphasis on her background seemed to be aimed at potential Republican opposition to her nomination, particularly as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that they would tie her to far left groups.
In her speech, Jackson talked extensively about her family, including her father, who made the decision to go to law school after working as a public high school teacher. “Some of my earliest memories are of him sitting at the kitchen table, reading his law books. I watched him study and he became my first professional role model.”
She also talked another uncle “who got caught up in the drug trade and received a life sentence. That is true. But law enforcement also runs in my family,” mentioning that one of her uncles became the police chief of Miami.
Supreme Court Nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson: "My life has been blessed beyond measure, and I do know that one can only come this far by faith. Among my many blessings, and indeed the very first, is the fact that I was born in this great country." #SCOTUS pic.twitter.com/cS548XnnvM
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 25, 2022
PREVIOUSLY: President Joe Biden plans to nominate Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, to fill the Supreme Court seat following the retirement of Stephen Breyer.
If confirmed, Jackson, 51, would be the first Black woman to serve on the court, fulfilling a pledge that Biden made during his presidential campaign. She has been a leading contender to be elevated to the high court. Last year, three Senate Republicans joining with Democrats to confirm her to the influential D.C. circuit.
In a statement, the White House called Jackson “one of the nation’s brightest legal minds.”
“Judge Jackson is an exceptionally qualified nominee as well as an historic nominee, and the Senate should move forward with a fair and timely hearing and confirmation,” the White House said.
The news of Jackson’s nomination briefly shifted the focus away from the unfolding crisis in Ukraine on major news networks, with CNN’s Jake Tapper first to report with a tweet at 5:44 AM PT that she was the pick. Among the broadcasters, ABC News broke in with a special report, anchored by George Stephanopoulos, and NBC News had a report anchored by Savannah Guthrie.
An official announcement is expected at the White House later on Friday.
Serving as a district judge from 2013 to 2021, Jackson ruled on a number of high profile cases, including in 2019, when she ruled that the White House could not ignore a congressional subpoena for the testimony of then-White House counsel Don McGahn. “Presidents are not kings,” she wrote.
Jackson served as a law clerk for Breyer. She received a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1996, and was supervising editor of Harvard-Radcliffe College in 1992. She also served as vice chair and commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and served as an assistant federal public defender.
In her confirmation hearing to the Court of Appeals last year, Jackson denied that she ruled in the McGahn case with an eye toward an eventual nomination to the Supreme Court.
“I know very well what my obligations are, what my duties are, not to rule with partisan advantage in mind, not to tailor or craft my decisions in order to try to gain influence or do anything of the sort,” she said, per The Washington Post.
Jackson was born in Washington and raised in Florida.
If all members of the Senate Democratic caucus stick together, Jackson can be confirmed with no Republican votes. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement in which he noted that he voted against her confirmation to the Court of Appeals last year.
Since then, I understand that she has published a total of two opinions, both in the last few weeks, and that one of her prior rulings was just reversed by a unanimous panel of her present colleagues on the D.C. Circuit,” McConnell said. “I also understand Judge Jackson was the favored choice of far-left dark-money groups that have spent years attacking the legitimacy and structure of the Court itself.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted that Jackson would be the first federal public defender to serve on the Supreme Court.
“Judge Jackson will be a force for justice on the Court, with her masterful command of the law, outstanding credentials and broad legal experience,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.