Case study

Ketanji Brown Jackson

Since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement, President Biden conducted a process to identify his replacement. President Biden sought a candidate with exceptional credentials and liberal principles. He also sought to make history by appointing the first black woman to the court. Announcing Jackson’s nomination on February 25, 2022, President Biden said, “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, and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.”

While Jackson is a liberal this will not alter the ideological balance on the court because Breyer was also liberal.

On February 25, 2022, President Joe Biden announced that he would nominate Ketanji Brown Jackson to the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to fill the upcoming vacancy by Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement on January 27, 2022 at the age of 83 .

On March 2, Senate Democrats announced that they would schedule confirmation hearings for March 21 through March 24, intending to finish the process before the chamber's Easter recess in early April.

On March 22, Jackson underwent the first round of questions from 20 senators of the Judiciary Committee for 13 hours. Jackson was asked questions related to critical race theory, dark money, abortion, gender identity, possible expansion of the supreme court and her sentencing record on child pornography cases. When asked to provide a definition for a woman by Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jackson declined to answer, saying "I'm not a biologist." Additionally, Cory Booker (D-NJ) inquired as to how she has been able to manage a work-life balance between motherhood with two daughters and her legal career. Republican senators accused her of being soft on crime.

On March 23, Jackson faced another round of questions for 10 hours, describing her judicial philosophy and defending her judgements on cases. She was grilled with a range of questions related to abortion, gun rights, and court-packing.

On March 24, the committee heard witness testimony from representatives of the American Bar Association, Democratic representative Joyce Beatty, and the Republican Alabama Attorney General, Steve Marshall. During his testimony, Marshall refused to acknowledge Joe Biden as the "duly elected and lawfully serving" President of the United States, which was widely reported in the media.

Chuck Grassley, from Iowa, portrayed the nominee as a darling of progressive “dark money” groups which he claimed were “soft on crime” at a time when violent crime was sweeping big cities.

Josh Hawley, of Missouri, doubled down on his incendiary accusation last week that in her seven years as a federal district court judge, Jackson showed leniency towards child pornography offenders. Hawley’s claims in a Twitter stream were exposed as baseless and misleading by media fact checkers.

However it remains highly likely that Jackson will be appointed to the court.

Jackson was born in Washington, DC in 1970 and grew up in Miami, Florida. Her father worked as a teacher and then a school board attorney, and her mother was a school principal. Jackson has said that she first started thinking about a career in law as a child when her father went back to law school.