U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has been sworn in as the 116th Supreme Court justice and the first Black woman to serve on the country’s top court. Jackson took the oath of office on Thursday, replacing retiring Justice Stephen Breyer after the court released its final rulings for this term. The court’s next term will start in October, Aljazeera reported.
A formal investiture for Jackson will be held in fall. “Now, on behalf of all the members of the Court, I’m pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the Court and to our common calling,” Chief Justice John Roberts said after Thursday’s short ceremony at the Supreme Court.
“Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. History,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote on Twitter welcoming Brown’s appointment.
“As Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson takes her seat on the Supreme Court, our nation takes an historic step toward realizing our highest ideals,” Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, said on social media. “Amid this Court’s cruel assault on Americans’ health, freedom and security, she will be a much needed force for equal justice for all.”
In April, the Senate confirmed Jackson to the nine-member bench, giving the U.S. Supreme Court a Black female justice for the first time in its 233-year history. U.S. President Joe Biden had said during a press conference in Delaware in June 2020 that he hoped to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court if given the opportunity. In January this year, he said that he plans on fulfilling his promise. Jackson’s appointment fulfilled that promise.
In a statement after taking office, Jackson said, “With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God.”
Here are four facts about the newest justice you should know:
1. Jackson has been a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She was born in Washington DC and raised in Miami by parents who are both graduates of historically black colleges.
2. Jackson has two degrees from Harvard University, which she attended as an undergraduate and as a law student, and once served as editor of the Harvard Law Review. While at Harvard, BBC reports that she led protests against a student who draped a Confederate flag from his dorm window.
3. Jackson was promoted to her current position just last year. Before this, she was district judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia from 2013 to 2021. In June, Biden nominated her to fill Merrick Garland’s seat on the D.C. Circuit after Garland was confirmed as attorney general. Jackson has also clerked for three federal judges in the past, including Breyer himself from 1999-2000.
4. During the House impeachment inquiry, Jackson presided over the attempt by the Trump Justice Department to prevent former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying to Congress. Jackson’s husband is a surgeon and she has two children.