Ketanji Brown Jackson

Justice Jackson was confirmed by the Senate on April 7, 2022.

On February 25, President Biden announced Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court following Justice Breyer’s retirement announcement. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is an eminently qualified judge who has shown an unwavering commitment to equal justice. This historic confirmation brings us one step closer to a Court that reflects the diversity of the country and will protect the rights of all of us, not just the wealthy and powerful.

Justice Jackson, formerly of the important D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is the first Black woman ever to be nominated and confirmed to the United States Supreme Court, making this is an exciting and historic moment for our country. We celebrate her confirmation.

Justice Jackson’s judicial record and legal career have both been superb. Her experience as a public defender and a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission signals an intimate understanding of the criminal legal system and its impact on middle class and working people. Justice Jackson has also consistently demonstrated a commitment to respecting the rights of all people, including in cases involving persons with disabilities, workers, and immigrants.  

Throughout her career, Judge Jackson chose to help deliver on a profoundly American promise – that everyone, no matter what the accusation, has the right to counsel. Not only is it a constitutional right, it is a foundational pillar of our democracy and an affirmation of our shared humanity. Justice Jackson’s experience as a public defender is a great strength, for she understands deeply that our Constitution is designed to protect all, not just some. She will bring to the Supreme Court the insight, intelligence and grace that comes uniquely from the experience of having stood by the most marginalized. 

Robin Steinberg, Chief Executive Officer, The Bail Project

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s experience as a public defender has been widely discussed. That experience is one I’m deeply familiar with, as I also practiced as a public defender, including as an Assistant Federal Public Defender and on behalf of people detained in Guantanamo Bay in the military commission system. Given our country’s role as the world leader in incarceration, and the ongoing expansion of our carceral state even beyond prison walls, her public defender experience is both currently lacking on the Court and deeply necessary. She has stood next to, and on behalf of, people targeted by our punishing criminal legal system. She has witnessed that devastation: the family separation, the deprivation of autonomy, the violence, the pain. Indeed, she has experienced that in her personal life, as well. But Jackson actually spent more time on the US Sentencing Commission, and that’s worth noting because of the deep dive it requires into what our system of mass incarceration does to people. And into how policy can change to address that, and why that’s important. Judges and courts will not end mass incarceration. But they can play a role. And her experience in courtrooms as well in the weeds of federal sentencing policy will be invaluable in that regard.

Premal Dharia, Executive Director, Institute to End Mass Incarceration at Harvard Law School

Judge Jackson’s experience as a federal public defender and as a district court judge will be a great addition to the Supreme Court and will provide perspective that most Supreme Court Justices lack.

Spencer Rice, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Utah

Justices who were former trial lawyers, e. g. Thurgood Marshall, bring a practical perspective to an otherwise abstract and academic judging process. Judge Jackson’s experience as a lawyer that represented individuals at trial brings to the court’s deliberations an insight into the effects of its rulings that is sorely missing and not otherwise available.

John Dusenbury, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Senior Litigator, North Carolina

Alaska boasts one of the most diverse populations and until recently had an all-women court of appeals bench. Judge Jackson would bring untold wisdom to the Supreme Court based on her representation of those who know firsthand that justice delayed is justice denied. This opportunity should not be wasted due to dogmatic partisanship.

Joshua Johnson, Former Federal Public Defender, Alaska

I may not agree with Judge Jackson politically, but from what I have seen she has an excellent grasp of the issues surrounding the federal criminal system. While her race and gender have historical significance I am more pleased that a shrewd former public defender is being brought to the highest court in the land.

Christopher DeLaughter, CJA Attorney, Florida

I worked directly with Judge Jackson teaching trial advocacy at Harvard Law School. Judge Jackson is smart, affable, and patient. She will be a thoughtful and professional jurist.

Samantha Buckingham, Visiting Professor, Director Emeritus, Juvenile Justice Clinic, Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, Loyola Law School (California)