As you have probably heard, President Biden has nominated Federal Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the Supreme Court. President Biden officially announced he was nominating Jackson, 51, to the Supreme Court on February 25th, but who is Judge Jackson, and where did her legal career begin? First let’s take a look at her early life. Judge Jackson was born on September 14th, 1970, in Washington, D.C., and raised in Miami, Florida. She began her career in law at Harvard University, where she served as an editor on the Harvard Law Review, a student run organization whose primary purpose is to publish a journal of legal scholarship. Mrs. Jackson received both her undergraduate and law degrees during her time there. Mrs. Jackson then went on to gain the position of clerk for Associate Justice Stephen Breyer before her promotion to a full appellate court. From 2013 to 2021, she served as a district judge for the United States District Court for Washington DC.
Judge Jackson’s spouse is Patrick G. Jackson. After meeting while they were both studying at Harvard, the two married in 1996. Mr. Jackson is chief of Gastrointestinal Surgery and an Associate Professor of Surgery at Georgetown University Department of Medicine. Judge Jackson has two daughters, Talia and Leila. Talia Jackson was born a few months after Judge Jackson started a new law firm. The struggles that she endured there prompted Judge Jackson to advocate for equal rights for women in the workplace, saying “don’t think it is possible to overstate the degree of difficulty that many young women and especially new mothers face in the law firm context. The hours are long. The workflow is unpredictable. You have little control over your time and your schedule, and you start to feel as though the demands of the billable hour are constantly in conflict with the needs of your children and your family responsibilities.”
Since being nominated on February 25th, she has become the first African American woman, and the sixth woman overall, to be nominated to the Supreme Court. In her nomination speech on February 25th, she said “I stand here today as a testament to the love and support I have received from my family. As a black girl who was often the only person of color in my class, club, or social circle, my parents knew it was important for me to develop a sense of self that was in no way dependent on what others felt about my skills.” She went on to describe inspiration she took from civil rights hero Constance Baker Motley, saying, “Judge Motley’s life and career has been a true inspiration to me as I have pursued this professional path.”