The role of Supreme Court Justice has always been a revered position. It is also one that has been historically held by white men. As society has progressed, we’ve begun to see more women and POC hold the position of Supreme Court Justice. There have been five female Justices throughout history: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayer, Elena Kagan, and most recently, Amy Coney Barrett. Out of these women, only one is considered a POC, and that would be Sonia Sotomayer. Justice Sotomayer is known as the first Latina to hold the Justice position. Besides Sotomayer, there have been only two other POC Justices. They are Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. Out of all the Supreme Court Justices, there has never been a black woman to hold the position.
When Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement in January of 2022, it opened the door for President Joe Biden to nominate a new Justice. During the beginning of Black History Month, President Biden announced that his Supreme Court Nominee would be none other than Ketanji Brown Jackson. If appointed, Judge Jackson would be the first black female to hold the role of Supreme Court Justice. This appointment would allow for greater strides in diversity within the legal system, a career that has historically been dominated by white men. In fact, according to American Progress, “Less than one-third of state judges are women, and only 20 percent are people of color”. The study goes into further detail by stating that although women of color make up one-fifth of the overall population, only 8 percent are actually women of color. Diversity is an important part of keeping the legal system safe and fair.
Judge Jackson is an incredibly talented and driven woman. Her love of law started when she was a young child. Her father was in law school, and Judge Jackson loved to sit by him while he completed his assignments. While in high school, Judge Jackson held various leadership positions. The White House website reports that she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, and she also graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. She was a Judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit, Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Vice Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Supreme Court Clerk, and a Public Defender. If appointed, Judge Jackson would be the first (former) federal public defender. This shows her willingness to help others. Her experience shows that she is ready and well-deserving of this appointment. Judge Jackson had defied the odds and stereotypes placed against her, and she has come out on top. To this day, she still faces backlash. During her appointment hearings, Judge Jackson experienced extreme negativity from members of Congress. People like Senator Tom Cotton compared her to the people presiding over the Nuremberg Trials. Senator Ted Cruz questioned her belief on racism and Critical Race Theory. He showed her anti-racist children books and asked for her thoughts on them. Other Senators questioned her on gender-expression and progressive education. Somehow, the appointment hearings turned into a witch-hunt searching for some small reason to despise her.
All of the questions asked by Congress were politically charged and tinted with a hidden meaning. The Supreme Court Justices are meant to be non-partisan, but lately,the position has been turned into a political battlefield. At the end of the day, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is an educated and experienced judge who deserves a fair shot as a Supreme Court Justice. Hopefully the Senate can remember that while moving forward.
Update: As of Thursday, April 7, 2022, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has officially been appointed as a Supreme Court Justice. The end result was 53 yeas and 47 nays. Three of the Republican Senators crossed party lines and voted for Judge Jackson. These GOP senators were Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski. Judge Jackson is now officially the first black woman to ever hold the Supreme Court Justice role, the sixth woman, and the 116th Justice in history.