Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson clerked for Justice Breyer earlier in her career. Tom Williams / Pool / AFP

President Joe Biden on Friday officially nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, fulfilling a campaign promise he made to nominate a Black woman for the high court. If confirmed, Jackson would make history as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Jackson would replace retiring Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who announced in January that he’s retiring at the end of the current session.

“I’m proud to announce that I am nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court,” Biden said in a tweet, adding that Jackson is “one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice.”

The president previously nominated Jackson, 51, to replace Merrick Garland, now attorney general, in March to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It’s considered one of the most important federal courts in the nation and a pipeline to the Supreme Court.

Jackson was confirmed by the Senate in an uncontentious hearing three months later, with Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham joining all Senate Democrats in voting for the appointment.

If she is confirmed, Jackson will be only the third Black justice in the Supreme Court’s 233-year history. It would also mark the first time that two African American justices are on the bench at the same time, as well as the first time four women served simultaneously.

After receiving both her bachelor’s and law degrees from Harvard, Jackson clerked for Breyer in 1999. She also served as a US district judge in the District of Columbia and on the US Sentencing Commission.

Before Biden’s announcement, civil rights attorney Ben Crump — who has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery — praised Jackson in an op-ed for The Hill, saying she had “the educational credentials and commitment” required for the Supreme Court.

“There will be no learning curve for Judge Jackson — she knows the law, has adjudicated it well, and is battle-tested,” he added.

Jackson has reportedly been on Biden’s short list of potential nominees since Breyer’s announcement, alongside California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger and Judge J. Michelle Childs, who serves on the US District Court in Columbia, South Carolina.

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Doug Jones, a former Democratic senator from Alabama, has been tapped to guide Jackson during her Senate confirmation process.

In a statement Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, congratulated Jackson on her nomination and said he “look[ed] forward to meeting with her in person and studying her record, legal views, and judicial philosophy.”

But he reiterated that the Senate should conduct “a rigorous, exhaustive review” in its confirmation hearings. “I voted against confirming Judge Jackson to her current position less than a year ago,” McConnell said.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

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