While applying to colleges, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s high school guidance counselor told her to not set her sights so high.
Years later, she is now President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee.
Since the Supreme Court‘s first session in 1790, there have been 115 justices to serve. Nearly all—108 of them—have been white men. Five have been women, and just three have been people of color.
Jackson would be the sixth woman and the fourth person of color to serve on the court.
Born in Washington, D.C., Jackson has been a leader since she was young. Having this kind of ambition has carried her to where she is today.
Her parents both went to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and her father was attending law school while she was in preschool. Jackson says doing her preschool homework next to her father doing his law school homework is where her passion for law began.
Proving her guidance counselor wrong, Jackson graduated with magna cum laude honors from Harvard in 1992 before graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1996.
Jackson has also served as the vice-chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a public defender and a private practice lawyer. She will become the first public defender and the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
This nomination is a big deal for marginalized groups of people everywhere, especially Black women. Jackson will be able to provide a unique viewpoint through her experiences and the hardships she has faced as a Black woman and mother in politics and law.
In a 2017 speech to the University of Georgia Law School, Jackson discussed the difficulties women of color face in her profession and the lack of women of color in the legal system. She said people in underrepresented groups also feel more isolated, which became difficult for her as a mother.
However, being a public defender gave Jackson insight into the representation of criminal defendants. As a Supreme Court Justice, it is important to understand the constitutional rights of criminal defendants, and the court lacked a public defender with this knowledge before Jackson.
President Joe Biden chose Jackson for a reason.
“I looked for someone who, like Justice Breyer, has a pragmatic understanding that the law must work for the American people,” Biden said. “And then, someone with extraordinary character..”
Since Biden nominated Jackson on Feb. 25, she has already been the victim of ignorant comments from people who think she is unqualified.
On his FOX News show, Tucker Carlson questioned Jackson’s LSAT score. Would he have asked this question about a white man? No, he never asked this of now-Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch or Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom are white men.
Despite Carlson’s ignorance and others like him, Jackson is going to make a positive change on the Supreme Court. While Supreme Court justices are not to be influenced by the political party whose administration they are affiliated with, six of the nine members were appointed by Republican presidents.
Jackson’s nomination is a small win in a bigger fight for equality.