Ketanji Brown Jackson will serve as the 116th Justice and the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court following her 53-47 confirmation Thursday. She will be sworn in after Justice Stephen Breyer retires at the end of the Court’s current term and will be on the Court in time to hear Sackett v. EPA in the fall. Jackson, a daughter of public school teachers, Harvard grad, and former public defender, endured a confirmation process rife with racism, misogyny, and personal attacks from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“If I have to be [the] second [Black woman Supreme Court Justice], I’m fine being second to K.B.J.,” 23-year-old Harvard Law student Abigail Hall told the New York Times. “She’s had to meet every single mark and she hasn’t been able to drop the ball … and that’s something that’s ingrained in us, in terms of checking every box, in order to be a Black woman and to get to a place like Harvard Law School.” Gwendolyn Gissendanner, also studying at Harvard Law, agreed. “I think of the Supreme Court as such an inaccessible beacon,” she said, “and the idea that someone who reflects my own identity is going to be in that space is kind of — I don’t even know if I’ve fully processed that yet.”

Impact on the Court

Jackson is unlikely to significantly alter the ideological makeup of a Court dominated by conservative justices, five of whom were nominated by presidents who lost the popular vote when first elected to office, who are seeking ways to drastically curtail the administrative state. The Roberts Court — despite being more demographically diverse than ever before — is more hostile to racial and gender equity than any Court since before Brown v. Board of Education. Republicans’ misogynoir behavior continued through her confirmation vote with many walking out immediately following the vote and two Senators actually disrupting the voting process by refusing to wear proper attire for the Senate floor.

Many first-generation law students have told Rutgers Law dean Kimberly Mutcherson they had never met a lawyer who looked like them until attending law school. “To see soon-to-be Justice Jackson sitting in her robe — the image of it is so powerful and meaningful,” said Mutcherson. “That can plant a little seed where a girl thinks, ‘Hmm, I wonder how you get there?’”


Confirmation: The Root, The Grio, NewsOne, Ebony, Prism Reports, Blavity, SCOTUSblog, AP, Washington Post $, New York Times $, NPR, Politico, USA Today, Wall Street Journal $, USA Today, MarketWatch, Al Jazeera, Variety, The Conversation, FT $, Slate, The Week, CBS, TIME, The Guardian, BBC, CBC, Deseret News, LA Times $, ABC, Deadline, New York Post, CNN, Yahoo, NBC, CNBC, NY Mag, The Hill, Texas Tribune, Economist, Dallas Morning News, Above the Law; Sackett and administrative state: E&E News, Gizmodo, E&E News; Representation: New York Times $, Reuters, CNN, USA Today, CNN; Misogynoir: NewsOne, CNN, FiveThirtyEight, Washington Post, Anita Hill op-ed $; State of the Court and impact: Vox, Washington Post $, New York Times $, The 19th* News, CNN.

Commentary: Black Wall Street Times, Tanesha Peeples op-ed, Washington Post, Mary Ann Sieghart op-ed $, Politico, Brakkton Booker commentary, The Grio, Christina Greer op-ed, Washington Post, Robin Givhan commentary $, CNN, Tomiko Brown-Nagin op-ed.