Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed as the first black woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.

Ketanji Brown Jackson has been confirmed as the first black woman to sit on the US Supreme Court in its 233-year history.

The judge secured the job for life after a 53-47 vote in the US Senate, following fierce questioning from critics.

Judge Jackson, 51, will also be the first former public defender to sit on the Supreme Court and the third black judge to sit.

US Supreme Court nominee and federal appeals court judge Ketanji Brown Jackson smiles during a meeting with US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA, April 4, 2022. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy
Ketanji Brown Jackson was nominated by President Joe Biden

The United States Supreme Court has only had two black justices, both men: Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas.

The African-American judge was nominated by US President Joe Biden in February to replace liberal Justice Stephen Breyer.

Before he joins the court, the Supreme Court must rule on several high-profile cases, including one that could overturn the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide and another that could expand gun rights.

Confirmation supporters for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson gather outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March 21, 2022. The Senate Judiciary Committee begins historic confirmation hearings for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on Monday, who would be the first black woman on the Supreme Court.  (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
To date, there have only been two black Americans on the Supreme Court, both men. Photo: AP

Who is Ketanji Brown Jackson?

Judge Jackson, 51, was born in Washington and grew up in Miami.

He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1996 and has distinguished legal experience punctuated by Ivy League credentials.

Early in her career, Jackson served as a clerk for the liberal Supreme Court. Justice Breyer, who is retiring at the end of this term.

Over the years, he has handled a number of high-profile cases.

Photo: Erin Schaff/The New York Times/AP
Supreme Court Justices from top left: Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, from bottom left: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. Photo: Erin Schaff/The New York Times/AP

In 2021, he was part of a three-judge panel that ruled against donald trump’s attempt to prevent White House records from being turned over to a committee investigating the capitol riot.

He also represented criminal defendants who could not afford an attorney, including those detained at Guantanamo Bay.

Why does your appointment matter?

A seat on the US Supreme Court gives judges the power to often have the last word on highly controversial laws.

Judge Jackson’s historic confirmation is cause for celebration for Black women’s representation on the highest federal court in the US.

“I know what it took for you to sit in that seat,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker told Jackson during his confirmation hearing, which brought tears to her eyes.

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Why does it matter who is elected to the Supreme Court of the United States? It could mean more than you think

Guy-Uriel Charles, a Harvard Law School professor and expert on race and law, explained how Jackson can impact the court.

He said: “I think as a black woman she will bring credibility on issues of race and gender. In matters of race, she could serve as a counterweight to Judge Thomas.

“In particular, I think young black women will have an even stronger sense that all avenues, especially in the law, are open to them.”

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson wipes her eye as she testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Justice Jackson shed tears during her confirmation hearings, where supporters reminded her of the importance of her nomination. Photo: AP

win over the conservatives

Justice Jackson will replace another liberal justice, meaning her confirmation will not affect the current conservative majority on the court.

During his confirmation hearings, Republican critics took aim at his legal record and were criticized for his questioning.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz grilled Justice Jackson on critical race theory, asking her if she thought babies could be racist.

Despite his liberal leanings, he garnered the support of three Republican senators and other conservatives outside of Capitol Hill.

Former US Attorney General Charles Fried told Sky News that he was backing her because she was the “absolutely ideal candidate”.

“She has had life experience, where she had to fight her way up and was successful at every stage,” he said.

Fried, who has taught at Harvard Law School since 1961, added that her experience as a public defender “brings a very important dimension of perspective to the court.”

An important voice on the bench as politically charged issues approach the Supreme Court

When people talk about Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s diversity, they mostly mean the immediately obvious.

But its diversity also covers other areas.

She is also the first former public defender to sit on the court and one of only three current judges to attend public school.

Although judges are supposed to remain impartial, past experiences inevitably correctly inform their thinking and impact decision-making.

The fact that he grew up in a minority, represented some of the most vulnerable people in the justice system, and the fact that his brother is an ex-cop, will impact his interpretation of certain cases and, in turn, make him questions. fellow justice.

On the court’s agenda for this term are a handful of incredibly politically charged and headline-grabbing issues, on gun control, religion and abortion rights.

Specifically on abortion, a challenge by the state of Mississippi to a law that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, the Supreme Court’s decision will affect millions of women of all colors, and women of color in particular.

In that, Judge Jackson will be an important voice in court.

President Biden nominated Jackson in February, making good on his presidential campaign promise to nominate a black woman to the court.

Entering the court at age 51, Judge Jackson will have many years on the bench to make her mark.

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