Ketanji Brown Jackson Makes History, But Not Without Fierce Opposition From Republicans

President Joe Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Friday, making her the first Black woman to be nominated to sit on the highest court in the nation. Her announcement was met with open opposition and derision by the Republican party.

Ketanji Brown Jackson

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History Set In Motion

On Friday, February 25, 2022, in the midst of worldwide attention on the upheaval in Ukraine, President Joe Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to make history as the first Black woman to sit on the highest court in the nation.

As he introduced Jackson to the White House, he stated, “Today, as we watch freedom and liberty under attack abroad, I’m here to fulfill my responsibilities under the Constitution, to preserve freedom and liberty here in the United States of America. 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.”

51-year-old Kentanji Jackson currently sits on DC’s federal court of appeals and was considered the front-runner for the vacant spot since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement. 

“I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking God for delivering me to this point in my professional journey. My life has been blessed beyond measure and I do know that one can only come this far by faith,” Jackson said.

Among my many blessings, and indeed the very first, is the fact that I was born in this great country,” she continued. “The United States of America is the greatest beacon of hope and democracy the world has ever known. I was also blessed from my early days to have had a supportive and loving family. My mother and father, who have been married for 54 years, are at their home in Florida right now and I know that they could not be more proud.

Though historic, Jackson’s nomination will not change the political makeup of the court. Currently, the court has six conservative justices and three liberal justices, with the retiring Breyer coming from the liberal camp. The court is poised to keep its turn towards the right with high-profile cases and rulings within the coming months regarding abortion, gun control, and religious liberty.

There was consideration to delay the announcement due to the Russian invasion in Ukraine, yet Biden thought it would be critical to put the second phase of the confirmation process in motion. Democratic senate leaders hope to have a vote confirming Jackson to the court by mid-April.

Republicans and White Supremacy vs Kentanji Brown Jackson

When she was announced, Republican senators immediately went on the attack, portraying her as a pawn of the left. 

While Democrats praised the qualifications of Biden’s choice, Republicans sought to criticize her educational background, record on crime and the support she holds from left-wing groups. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who ironically voted for Jackson to serve as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit eight months ago, appeared to be against her nomination, saying in a tweet that “the radical Left has won President Biden over yet again.”

“We must not blindly confirm a justice to serve as a rubber stamp for a radical progressive agenda,” said Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn in a tweet after the announcement. 

Notable Republican Senator Mitch McConnell stated that “she has published a total of two opinions, both in the last few weeks and that one of her prior rulings was just reversed by a unanimous panel of her present colleagues on the D.C. Circuit. I also understand Judge Jackson was the favored choice of far-left dark-money groups that have spent years attacking the legitimacy and structure of the Court itself.”

Senator McConnell is incorrect with the statement that she has written only two opinions – Jackson has actually written 500 opinions in the eight years she spent on the district court. 

Right-wing derision of Kentanji Jackson continued.  Fox News host Tucker Carlson – described by political commentator and comedian John Oliver “as one of the most dangerous… the most prominent vessel in America for white supremacist talking points” – attacked Jackson’s nomination by suggesting it was designed to defile the Supreme Court.

Let’s say you wanted to humiliate and degrade it and undermine its ancient institutions. Well you might take the single most important appointed position in the entire government and announce in public that you were filling that position on the basis of appearance. Not on the basis of skill or wisdom or fealty to the founding documents of the United States but on the way the person looks.

The Tucker Carlson Show continued, saying “It’s not a question of ‘we found the most qualified person who happens to look this way.’ What you’re saying is ‘we found a person who looks this way, who by the way, may be qualified.’ That would send a very clear message that you don’t like the country you run and you don’t care about the institutions that its ancestors built.”

Many other criticisms from Republican Senators were based on background, education, and political stance. Senator Ted Cruz’s comment told Fox News “Democrats today believe in racial discrimination. They’re committed to it as a political proposition. I think it is wrong to stand up and say, ‘We’re going to discriminate.’” 

Notably, the Supreme Court was founded by and has been almost exclusively populated by white men since its inception. Of 115 justices, only two have been Black men and five have been women.  Kentaji Jackson’s nomination will be representative of a community of citizens who have historically been underrepresented in the country’s highest law-making body.