Ketanji Brown Jackson has been sworn in as the newest associate Supreme Court Justice, becoming the first black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
The appointment followed one of the most consequential Supreme Court terms in recent memory, with significant rulings on abortion and gun rights. Mrs. Jackson, 51, will replace Justice Stephen Breyer, and join the Court’s three-member liberal minority. During her swearing-in, Mrs. Jackson, in a statement, noted that she accepts “the solemn responsibility” of the role.
The former public defender is joining the Court at a stormy period in its history. The nine-member court is currently split between six Republican-appointed justices and three picked by Democrats.
No Change in Ideological Balance
The lifetime appointment will likely see Mrs. Jackson on the bench for decades but will not shift the current ideological balance of the Court. The addition of Mrs. Jackson to the Court would rather mean that its liberal minority, with Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, will be made up entirely of women.
Mr. Breyer congratulated his successor, saying “her hard work, integrity, and intelligence have earned her a place on this court”, saying that “I am glad for my fellow justices. They gain a colleague who is empathetic, thoughtful, and collegial”.
US President, Joe Biden, a Democrat, announced her nomination in February 2022, while in April this year (2022), three Republicans crossed the aisle to seal her appointment in the US Senate.
Mrs. Jackson’s Experience
During her confirmation, Democrats touted Mrs. Jackson’s experience working as a public defender. However, she will be the first Supreme Court Justice since Thurgood Marshall, who was the first black man to be appointed to the highest judicial body to have career experience representing criminal defendants.
Mrs. Jackson, a Washington DC native, previously sat on the influential US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit. She has two degrees from Harvard University and once served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She worked as a public defender in Washington before joining a private practice prior to her judicial appointments.
The Latest Ruling
Meanwhile, in recent weeks, the Supreme Court delivered several blockbuster decisions, overturning the 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision on abortion, striking down of a New York law to restrict gun-carrying rights, and the latest ruling, which limits the US Environmental Protection Agency‘s power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which represents a major setback to President Joe Biden’s climate plans.
Mr. Biden called the ruling a “devastating decision” but said it would not undermine his effort to tackle the climate crisis. The case against the EPA was brought by West Virginia on behalf of 18 other mostly Republican-led states and some of the nation’s largest coal companies.
In their argument, they pointed out that the agency did not have the authority to limit emissions across whole states. These 19 states were worried their power sectors would be forced to move away from using coal, at a severe economic cost. In a 6-3 ruling, the Court sided with the conservative states and fossil-fuel companies, agreeing that the EPA did not have the authority to impose such sweeping measures.