A New Justice

Deeya Rohant, Staff Writer

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will make history as the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Jackson is set to fill the seat of current Justice Stephen Breyer once he retires.

Before she could be confirmed as a justice, Judge Jackson faced three days of confirmation hearings. During her hearings, Judge Jackson was questioned by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Many senators brought up topics unrelated to her work as a judge, including questions about a children’s book called “Antiracist Baby,” by Ibram X. Kendi. The book is taught at Georgetown Day School, where Judge Jackson serves on the board of trustees. It teaches that racism is a learned behavior, not something people are inherently born with. When Senator Ted Cruz asked Judge Jackson if she agreed with the book, she reminded him that children’s books don’t come up in her work as a judge.

Many of her former rulings were also brought up, with some senators claiming that she has a pattern of giving light sentences to child porn offenders.

Some claim that Judge Jackson was being antagonized much more than previous justices. Junior Brooklynn Prince watched the hearings and was disappointed with the way Judge Jackson was treated.

“Watching the whole thing was very irritating because of everything that was going on, and how certain senators were antagonizing her, especially Cruz and all of those people,” Prince said. “It was kind of disappointing, because if you watch other hearings, you know there isn’t this much antagonizing going on, and you kind of knew that it was because of Ketanji being Black and a woman.”

When the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Judge Jackson’s confirmation, half of the committee voted against her confirmation. Because of this, the committee turned to a full vote of the Senate to break the tie. Out of 50 Republican senators, only three voted for her nomination, but with 50 votes from Democratic senators, Judge Jackson had enough votes to be confirmed.

Judge Jackson will join Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Sonia Sotomayor as liberal justices, but conservative justices will still have a 6:3 majority. Judge Jackson will also be the only Justice on the Supreme Court to have experience as a public defender.

As the first black woman on the Supreme Court, Judge Jackson represents a move toward diversity for the highest court in the land. For Prince, she symbolizes hope for the future.

“Hearing her get it was so crazy. I remember screaming when I found out, and I was telling everybody,” Prince said. “It was such a big deal to me because being a Black woman and then having that type of representation in the judicial system is, I mean it’s crazy, especially since the system is kind of built against Black people. It was very inspiring, and it basically told me ‘Oh, I can do anything I want, pretty much.’”