He will also bring rare experience in defending the poor accused of crimes.
Although Judge Ketanji Jackson has the most elite educational background, she would be the original justice since Thurgood Marsh, the legendary civil rights lawyer and first Black person to sit on the court. She also has significant criminal defense experience. She was also involved in advocating for Guantanamo prisoners.
At Friday's White House unveiling, she stated that "I can only hope my life, my career, my love for this country, and my commitment towards upholding the rule and law and the sacred principles on which this great nation was built, will inspire future generations."
Jackson, 51, graduated from Harvard Law School and Harvard University. She is currently a federal appeals court judge. Jackson, 51, is a Harvard Law School graduate and a former young lawyer who worked for the Justice Stephen Breyer.
Biden introduced Jackson Friday, saying that she had learned from Breyer’s "willingness” to work with people with different views. He also said that Jackson's experience as a judge in the trial court before being nominated to the appeals court was a "critical qualification". Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's first Latina, has ever been a trial judge on the current court.
Jackson may be criticised for not having a long track record as a federal appels court judge. Biden appointed her to her current post on the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.
Biden may have found Jackson's choice attractive because she won some Republican support when Jackson was nominated for the appeals court. This resulted in being confirmed by a 53-4 vote. She was supported by three Republican senators: Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Another connection for the GOP: Jackson, R-Wis, is related to Paul Ryan (ex-House Speaker).
Ryan tweeted Friday, "Our politics may be different, but I praise Ketanji for her intellect, her character and her integrity is unequivocal."
Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Miami. Ellery and Johnny Brown, Jackson's parents, gave their name to Jackson as a way to show their pride in her African heritage. An aunt from Africa, who was serving in the Peace Corps at the time, asked them to send them a list of names for African girls. They chose Ketanji Onyika which meant "lovely one".
Her interest in law dates back to preschool, when her father was in law school. They would often sit at the dining table together, she with coloring books and him with law books. Friday described her father as her "first professional role-model" and she was an attorney for the county's school board. Her mom was a highschool principal.
Her family is also involved in law enforcement. Her older brother, who was a Baltimore police officer before she became a lawyer, served in the Army. Two of her uncles were police officers.
Jackson was a debate champion and president of her high school's public high school class. Stephen F. Rosenthal was a classmate from Miami and a friend who went to college and law school together with Jackson. He called her a natural leader and someone with "penetrating intellect."
She studied government at Harvard. However, she was also involved in musical theater and drama. She was once assigned Matt Damon, an actor, as her drama class partner. She has since said that he wouldn't probably remember her. Damon confirmed this through a representative.
She met Patrick Jackson, a surgeon, at Harvard. Leila, a high school student, and Talia, her older sister, are their two daughters.
They were married in 1996, just a few years after Jackson had worked for Breyer at the Supreme Court. Deborah Pearlstein was a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens in the same year Jackson worked at Breyer. She recalls Jackson being funny, intelligent, and "incredibly good" at her job.
Pearlstein stated, "I don’t know anyone there at that time who didn’t get along with Ketanji."
Jackson worked in large law firms over the course of her career, but she also served as a public defender. She was nominated for the U.S. Senate. She said that she learned to knit after being nominated to the U.S. Sentencencing Commission, which is responsible for determining federal sentencing policy. She was a member of the unanimous vote that allowed thousands of crack-related criminals to have their sentences reduced under a new law.
Jackson doesn't see prison as a distant idea. Jackson has a uncle who was sentenced to life for drug-related crimes until it was reduced by former President Barack Obama.
Jackson's work with the Sentencing Commission helped her become a federal judge. She ordered Don McGahn, former White House counsel, to appear before Congress in one of her most prominent decisionsas trial judge. This was a blow to the efforts of former President Donald Trump to prevent his top aides testifying. McGahn was eventually allowed to testify after the case was appealed.
Jackson temporarily blocked Trump's 2019 plan to increase fast-track deportations for people who are in the country illegally. However, Jackson was overruled in the appeal.
Jackson was also involved in the "pizzagate" online conspiracy theory, unfounded internet rumors that prominent Democrats were harboring child-sex slaves at Washington pizza restaurants. An AR-15 assault rifle-wielding North Carolina man arrived at the restaurant armed with a revolver and an AR-15 assault rifle. Jackson called it "sheer fortune" that no one was hurt and sentenced Jackson to four years imprisonment.
Jackson's record as an appeals court judge is much shorter, with only two opinions. One opinion for a unanimous trio of judges was a decision in favor labor unions.
She voted with her colleagues in to decline to stop the Biden administration enforcing an eviction freeze during the coronavirus-pandemic. They also ruled against Trump's attempt to shield documents from the House investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. These decisions were appealed by the Supreme Court. The justices allowed evictions to resume and permitted the documents' release.
Jackson was previously supported by the man she would succeed on the Supreme Court's current opening. Breyer was reportedly the one who called Breyer during her initial nomination to federal judge. She reportedly answered the phone with the words "Hire her!"