Who Is Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s Supreme Court Nominee?

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If she is confirmed by the U.S. Senate and becomes the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and if her judicial track record so far is any guide, Ketanji Brown Jackson will probably be a reliable member of the high court’s three-member liberal bloc.

Jackson’s arrival would maintain the current ideological alignment of the court, which now consists of six conservatives–three of whom were appointed by then-President Donald Trump–and three liberals.

Born Ketanji Onyika Brown, Jackson turns 52 this Sept. 14. She would replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, who will be 84 on Aug. 15. Jackson previously clerked at the Supreme Court for Breyer, who sings her praises. She is related by marriage to former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who ran for vice president in 2012 opposing the incumbent at the time, Biden. After hearing of the nomination, Ryan said in a Tweet: “Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character, and for her integrity, is unequivocal.”

Born in the nation’s capital, Jackson moved with her family to Florida when she was young. Her father was chief attorney for the Miami-Dade County School Board. Her mother was principal at a public magnet school. She attended the same high school as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, where she was student body president and excelled in debating. She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. She was a reporter and researcher at Time magazine, worked at four elite law firms, and served in three federal judicial clerkships, as well as a lawyer and commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission as it moved to reduce sentences for drug crimes. In an experience not typical for Supreme Court justices, Jackson worked for two years as a public defender, reports Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog.

By Matthew Vadum

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