Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in as first black woman on Supreme Court : NPR

Justice Stephen G. Breyer (Retired) administers the judicial oath to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in the West Boardroom of the Supreme Court Building. Her left hand rests on two Bibles held by her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson.

Fred Schilling, United States Supreme Court Collection


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Fred Schilling, United States Supreme Court Collection


Justice Stephen G. Breyer (Retired) administers the judicial oath to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in the West Boardroom of the Supreme Court Building. Her left hand rests on two Bibles held by her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson.

Fred Schilling, United States Supreme Court Collection

Ketanji Brown Jackson has been sworn in as the 116th Supreme Court justice and the first black woman to serve on the High Court.

The ceremony caps a months-long process that essentially began in February, when President Biden, fulfilling a campaign promise to appoint the first black woman to the Supreme Court, announced Jackson, 51, as his choice to replace the justice Stephen Breyer, 83 years old. Breyer – who Jackson worked for after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1996 – officially retired on Thursday, paving the way for his swearing in.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts watches as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson signs the oaths of office in the Supreme Court Justices’ Boardroom.

Fred Schilling, United States Supreme Court Collection


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Fred Schilling, United States Supreme Court Collection


Chief Justice John G. Roberts watches as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson signs the oaths of office in the Supreme Court Justices’ Boardroom.

Fred Schilling, United States Supreme Court Collection

“For too long, our government, our courts have not looked like America,” Biden said when he named her. “And I believe it is time that we have a court that reflects all the talent and greatness of our nation with a candidate with extraordinary qualifications and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country in the highest level.”

During the noon ceremony at the Supreme Court, Jackson took two oaths: a constitutional oath, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, and a judicial oath, administered by Breyer. An official nomination for Jackson will follow in the fall.

Jackson will face important cases next term, including those involving affirmative action (which she can recuse herself from), the independent legislature theory and religious liberty.

She faced controversial Senate confirmation hearings

Jackson has been confirmed since April, when the Senate voted 53 to 47 for her nomination.

“It took 232 years and 115 prior nominations for a black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, but we did it! We made it — all of us,” Jackson said in remarks. at an event at the White House the day after the Senate vote.

“I have dedicated my career to public service because I love this country, our Constitution and the rights that set us free,” Jackson also said.

The 50 Democrats in the Senate, including the two independents and the three Republicans – Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – voted to confirm Jackson. The vote was hailed as a “historic moment” by Democrats, though the confirmation process was filled with cross-party clashes over Jackson’s past court rulings.

Jackson served eight years as a federal trial judge, issuing more than 500 opinions, and last June he was confirmed for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia after also being nominated for that position by Biden.

Jackson is the first Supreme Court justice since Thurgood Marshall to represent indigent defendants as a public defender. Additionally, she also served as Vice Chair of the US Sentencing Commission, where she gained a reputation for building consensus among members.

Jackson was joined at the ceremony by her husband and daughters

While being sworn in by Roberts and Breyer, Jackson’s left hand rested on two stacked Bibles held by her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson. One was a family bible, the other given to the Supreme Court by Justice John Marshall Harlan. It’s called Harlan’s Bible.

Harlan, known as the Great Dissenter during his 34-year tenure on the court, was the only judge to vote no in 1896 at Plessy v. Fergusonwhich upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine.

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