WASHINGTON (CN) — President Joe Biden nominated D.C. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Friday to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court that will be created with Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement at the end of the term.
“It's my honor to introduce to the country, a daughter of former public school teachers, a proven consensus builder, an accomplished lawyer, a distinguished jurist, one of the nation's most on one of the nation's most prestigious courts, my nominee for the United States Supreme Court Judge Ketanji Jackson,” Biden said Friday afternoon in remarks on Jackson’s nomination.
Biden said he focused on choosing a nominee who would be worthy of Justice Breyer’s legacy. Consulting members of both parties and leading legal scholars when making the decision, Biden said was looking for someone with “a pragmatic understanding that the law must work for the American people.”
“For far too long our government, our courts, haven't looked like America,” Biden said. “I believe is time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications.”
Jackson thanked Biden for his focus on the nomination, despite other pressing matters on this plate.
“Mr. President, I am truly humbled by the extraordinary honor of this nomination, and I am especially grateful for the care that you have taken in discharging your constitutional duty in service of our democracy with all that is going on in our world today,” Jackson said.
Acknowledging the seat her nomination would fill, Jackson said her time clerking for Justice Breyer was the greatest job any young lawyer could hope to have.
“Justice Breyer, the members of the Senate will decide if I fill your seat, but please know that I could never fill your shoes,” Jackson said.
Republican criticism of the appointment began meanwhile even before Biden’s official announcement. Senator Lindsey Graham called Jackson's nomination proof that “the radical left has won President Biden over yet again.” Graham was one of the Republican senators to vote for Jackson’s earlier appointment to the D.C. Circuit.
“I expect a respectful but interesting hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Graham said in a statement.
Labor groups, on the other hand, have praised Biden’s choice.
“We applaud President Biden for nominating Judge Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Everett Kelley, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement. “Her previous work as a public defender, as an advocate for reforming our criminal sentencing laws, and prior judicial rulings show she will affirm the rights of regular American workers and everyday citizens while holding accountable those who break the law — even the most powerful among us.”
If confirmed, Jackson would be the high court’s first judge who is a Black woman. At age 51, lifetime appointment means she will likely serve for decades. The native Washingtonian was seen as a shoo-in for the position following her bipartisan appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last June.
Jackson previously worked on the staff of the United States Sentencing Commission, a position for which she was nominated by President Barack Obama, and as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C. Obama also nominated Jackson to as a U.S. district judgeship, where the reversal rate for the more than 550 decisions she made was only 2%.
Though she began her career at a Washington law firm, Jackson left only nine months later when she got a coveted clerkship at the Supreme Court with none other than Breyer.