WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden announced Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on Friday.
Jackson is the first Black woman selected to serve on the nation’s highest court.
“I am pleased to nominate Judge Jackson, who will bring extraordinary qualifications, deep experience and intellect, and a rigorous judicial record to the court,” said President Biden.
In Jackson, Biden delivers on a campaign promise to make the historic appointment and to further diversify a court that was made up entirely of white men for almost two centuries. He has chosen an attorney who would be the high court’s first former public defender, though she also possesses the elite legal background of other justices.
Jackson would be the current court’s second Black justice — Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, is the other — and just the third in history.
“For too long, our government, our courts, haven’t looked like America. I believe it’s time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications,” Biden said Friday.
The president emphasized Judge Jackson’s long list of legal bona fides, highlighting her time as a federal public defender and experience as a trial court judge.
If confirmed, Jackson would be only the sixth woman to serve on the court, and her confirmation would mean that for the first time four women would sit together on the nine-member court.
In brief remarks, Jackson thanked Biden, saying she was “humbled by the extraordinary honor of this nomination.” She highlighted her family’s firsthand experience with the entirety of the legal system, as judges and lawyers, an incarcerated member and police officers.
Standing alongside Biden at the White House, she spoke of the historic nature of her nomination, noting she shared a birthday with Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman to be confirmed to the federal bench.
Jackson, who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, also thanked her family and legal mentors and discussed her upbringing in Miami.
“The United States of America is the greatest beacon of hope and democracy the world has ever known,” said Jackson.
The current court includes three women, one of whom is the court’s first Latina, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Jackson would join the liberal minority of a conservative-dominated court that is weighing cutbacks to abortion rights and will be considering ending affirmative action in college admissions and restricting voting rights efforts to increase minority representation.
Biden is filling the seat that will be vacated by Breyer, who is retiring at the end of the term this summer.
Jackson, 51, once worked as one of Breyer’s law clerks early in her legal career. She attended Harvard as an undergraduate and for law school, and served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the agency that develops federal sentencing policy, before becoming a federal judge in 2013.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin has said that he wants the Senate to move quickly on the nomination, and senators have set a goal of confirmation by mid-April. But that timeline could be complicated by a number of things, including developments between Russia and Ukraine and the extended absence of Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, who suffered a stroke last month and is out for several weeks. Democrats would need Lujan’s vote to confirm Biden’s pick if no Republicans support her.
Biden during the 2020 presidential election campaign pledged to nominate a Black woman to fill any Supreme Court vacancy. Biden’s fellow Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in the U.S. Senate, which under the U.S. Constitution gets to confirm Supreme Court nominees.
According to a person familiar with the process, Biden also interviewed J. Michelle Childs and Leondra Kruger.
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.