Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice on Thursday, making her the first black woman on the nation’s highest court.
Jackson, a former public defender and federal appeals court judge, was sworn in in a small ceremony shortly after Judge Stephen Breyer’s retirement became official. Chief Justice John Roberts took the constitutional oath and Breyer took the judicial oath.
Jackson’s husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, their two daughters and the other Supreme Court justices were in attendance, as was retired Judge Anthony Kennedy, who stepped down from the court in 2018.
After the ceremony, Jackson said in a statement: “With full heart I accept the solemn responsibility to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to administer justice without fear or favour, so help me God. I am truly grateful that I am part of the promise of our great nation. I thank all my new colleagues for their warm and gracious welcome.”
She also mentioned Breyer, who hired her as a clerk in 1999, calling him a “personal friend and mentor of mine.”
Breyer said Jackson’s “hard work, integrity and intelligence have earned her a place on this court.”
“I’m happy for my fellow judges,” he added. “They will gain a colleague who is empathetic, considerate and collegial. I am happy for America. Ketanji will interpret the law wisely and honestly and help that law work better for the American people, to whom it applies.”
Roberts said a formal inauguration ceremony will be held for Jackson in the fall, but her swearing in Thursday allows her to work on the court in the meantime.
In a statement, President Joe Biden thanked Breyer for his services and congratulated his candidate on his nomination as “Justice Jackson.”
“Her historic inauguration today is a huge step forward for our nation, for all the young black girls who now see themselves reflected in our Supreme Court, and for all of us as Americans,” Biden said, adding that the Supreme Court “just called a colleague.” with a world-class intellect, the dignified temperament the American people expect from a justice, and the strongest credentials imaginable.”
Jackson was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 53 to 47 in April. Vice President Kamala Harris, the first black American and the first person of South Asian descent to be elected to office, chaired the confirmation vote.
Jackson watched the vote in the White House alongside Biden, who selected her as Breyer’s replacement in February, fulfilling a campaign promise to pick a black woman if given the chance. At 51, she is young enough to hold the chair for decades.
“For too long our government, our courts, haven’t looked like America,” Biden said when nominating Jackson. “I believe it is time we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation.”
Jackson said at the time: “If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I can only hope that my life and career, my love for this country and the Constitution, and my dedication to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded will inspire future generations of Americans.
Born in Washington, DC, Jackson grew up in Miami. Her father was an attorney for the Miami-Dade School Board and her mother was a school administrator. She said her father, a former history teacher, inspired her to study law. Jackson graduated with honors from Harvard Law School in 1996, before working as a clerk for Breyer three years later.
After years of working for private companies, Jackson served as a lawyer for the US Sentencing Commission from 2003 to 2005. Supreme Court biography† She then served as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, before returning to private practice in 2007. In 2012, then-President Barack Obama nominated Jackson to the U.S. District Court in DC, where she served from 2013 to 2021.
Her Supreme Court nomination was supported by progressive groups, as well as former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican and a relative of Jackson. Her husband’s twin brother is married to Ryan’s sister-in-law. “Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character and for her integrity is unequivocal,” Ryan said. tweeted after her appointment.