Why BYU’s former legal counsel got a shoutout in Biden’s Supreme Court nomination speech
Biden mentioned praise from Judge Thomas Griffith, a Bush appointee, to highlight bipartisan support for his Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
In his speech Friday introducing Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden mentioned praise Jackson received from Brigham Young University’s former general counsel.
Judge Thomas Griffith served on the D.C. Circuit Court from 2005 to 2020 and wrote a letter in support of Jackson’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court last year.
“When Judge Jackson was nominated to the Circuit Court, one of its distinguished retired members, Judge Thomas Griffith, a former general counsel of Brigham Young University and a George Bush appointee to the Court said he backed her enthusiastically, hailing her exemplary legal career in both public and private practice,” Biden said.
Griffith wrote in the letter that although he and Jackson “sometimes differed on the best outcome of a case, I have always respected her careful approach and agreeable manner, two indispensable traits for success in a collegial body.”
Griffith served as general counsel of BYU for five years, and he has also worked as Senate legal counsel and on Biden’s bipartisan Supreme Court commission, which studied reform proposals including expanding the court or implementing term limits for justices (the commission said in a report that Congress has the power to expand the court, though it offered no recommendations on doing so, and a constitutional amendment would likely be needed for term limits). Griffith graduated from BYU in 1978 and the University of Virginia School of Law in 1985.
The former BYU general counsel is not the only conservative who’s supported Jackson before.
Biden highlighted other bipartisan support Jackson received during his remarks. Last year, three Republicans — Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — voted to confirm her for the Circuit Court. It was Jackson’s third Senate confirmation, including one to serve on a bipartisan independent sentencing commission.
“On the commission, Judge Jackson was known for working with Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on critical issues,” Biden said.
Jackson won’t necessarily get the same bipartisan reception for her confirmation this time around, though. Graham said in a statement that Jackson’s nomination was evidence “the radical left has won President Biden over yet again,” and Murkowski said in a statement that her past votes to confirm someone to lower courts doesn’t signal how she’ll vote for a Supreme Court nominee.
“Being confirmed to the Supreme Court — the nation’s highest tribunal, and a lifetime appointment — is an incredibly high bar to achieve,” Murkowski said. “I look forward to the opportunity to meet with Judge Jackson to learn more about her qualifications as a jurist, her judicial temperament and philosophy.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, didn’t indicate which way he’ll vote in a statement released Friday, but said he’ll meet with Jackson and evaluate her record and qualifications.
“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is an experienced jurist, and I know her historic nomination will inspire many,” Romney said.
If confirmed, Jackson would replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who was nominated by Bill Clinton, maintaining the court’s 6-3 conservative advantage. Jackson would be the first Black female Supreme Court justice in U.S. history, as well as the first former federal public defender justice.