Ketanji Brown Jackson officially sworn in as first Black woman on Supreme Court

Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden's first high court nominee, was sworn in on Thursday following the retirement of Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

June 30 (UPI) — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a top federal appellate court judge and former public defender, was sworn in on the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday and became the first Black woman on the bench.

Jackson, 51, was sworn in at noon following the retirement of Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, who ascended to the high court in 1994 and announced his resignation earlier this year.

Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath and Breyer administered the judicial oath. The entire process took just a couple minutes.

“There will be a formal investiture in the fall, but the oaths will allow Judge Jackson to undertake her duties, and she’s been anxious to get to them without any further delay,” Roberts said at the ceremony.

“On behalf of all of the members of the court, I am pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling,” he added.

Jackson was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for about a year before ascending to the Supreme Court. Previously, she was a public defender and was President Joe Biden‘s first Supreme Court nominee. Biden had promised during his campaign for president in 2020 that he would nominate a Black woman to the court.

The Senate narrowly confirmed Jackson in April by a 53-47 vote. Most Republicans argued that her track record as a judge showed she is weak on crime — an assessment that the American Bar Association rejected — and some like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina opposed her because they supported a different candidate for the post.

Jackson maintains the ideological balance of the court — six conservative justices and three progressive justices — as the 83-year-old Breyer was a progressive. She is the 116th Supreme Court justice.

Jackson will formally join the court when it begins its next term in October.

Jackson’s joining the court comes after several controversial and high-profile decisions this month. The high court struck down Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide, last week — and ruled against a New York gun-safety law. On Thursday, the court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency has no authority to mandate carbon emissions from power plants.


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