President Joe Biden made history and held to a campaign promise in choosing a Black woman to fill an upcoming vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Biden picked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to succeed retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. Her nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.
Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said one of his most serious constitutional responsibilities as a senator is to provide advice and consent on a Supreme Court nomination. He said he believes the next Supreme Court justice must faithfully apply the law and the Constitution — impartially and regardless of policy preferences.
“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is an experienced jurist, and I know her historic nomination will inspire many,” Romney said in a statement Friday. “I look forward to meeting in person with Judge Jackson, thoroughly reviewing her record and testimony, and evaluating her qualifications during this process.”
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said in a statement that he looks forward to “thoroughly” vetting Jackson’s judicial record and “asking questions regarding her judicial philosophy, and providing my advice regarding her nomination.”
“While Judge Jackson and I disagree on many points of law, and have grave concerns about the precedent she would seek to set as a Supreme Court justice, fairness and objectivity will be the guiding principles in my evaluation,” said Lee, whom former President Donald Trump interviewed for a previous opening on the court.
During the 2020 presidential campaign Biden said the person he would nominate to the high court will be someone with “extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity. And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court. It’s long overdue in my view.”
In announcing Jackson’s nomination at the White House, Biden said “for too long our government, our courts haven’t looked like America.” He said it’s time the court reflected the “full talents and greatness” of the nation.
Biden noted that retired D.C. appeals court Judge Thomas Griffith, former general counsel at Brigham Young University and a George W. Bush appointee, “enthusiastically” backed her for the appeals court bench, “hailing her exemplary career” in both public and private practice and her “careful approach” as a trial court judge.
In brief remarks, Jackson thanked God for “delivering me to this point in my professional journey. My life has been blessed beyond measure and I do know that one can only come this far by faith.”
I’m proud to announce that I am nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court. Currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, she is one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice.https://t.co/iePvhz1YaA pic.twitter.com/Nzqv2AtN8h— President Biden (@POTUS) February 25, 2022
Jackson, 51, has long been considered the leading contender for the nation’s top court, particularly after Biden elevated her last year from the trial court to the D.C. appeals court seen as second in power only to the Supreme Court. She also served as a law clerk for Breyer on the high court.
“Justice Breyer, the members of the Senate will decide if I fill your seat, but please know that I could never fill your shoes,” Jackson said, acknowledging the influence her mentor has had on her life.
Jackson is popular with liberal legal activists looking to replace Breyer with a justice willing to engage in ideological combat with the court’s conservatives, who now hold a formidable six-justice majority, according to Politico.
Some conservatives criticized Biden’s selection process as “discriminatory.”
“No one objects to the idea of Biden choosing a Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, but his choice to disqualify all other candidates automatically on the basis of race and gender is antithetical to the Constitution and decades of anti-discrimination laws,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, wrote in the Washington Examiner.
An ABC News/Ipsos poll released in January found 76% of Americans want Biden to consider “all possible nominees.” Just 23% want him to automatically follow through on his pledge to nominate a Black woman.
A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll conducted in February before Biden announced the nomination of Jackson yielded similar results to the ABC News national poll.
The survey found 73% of Utahns want Biden to consider all possible nominees, while 18% want him to consider nominees who are Black women as he promised to do in the campaign.
Dan Jones & Associates conducted the poll of 808 registered Utah voters Feb. 7-17. It has a margin of error of 3.45 percentage points.
In the poll, 80% of Republicans said the president should consider all possible candidates, compared to 29% of Democrats.
Half of Democrats said Biden should stick to his campaign promise to only consider Black women. Slightly more women than in the survey were of that same mind, though both were under 20%.
Utahns were divided along political ideology, with an overwhelming majority of conservatives wanting Biden to consider all nominees and liberals favoring his vow to choose a Black woman.
Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Miami. Both of her parents were public school teachers. When she was in preschool, her father attended law school.
In a 2017 lecture, Jackson traced her love of the law to sitting next to her father in their apartment as he did his law school homework — reading cases and preparing for Socratic questioning — while she undertook her preschool homework — coloring books, according to the White House.
Jackson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, then attended Harvard Law School, where she graduated cum laude and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She lives with her husband, Patrick, and their two daughters, in Washington, D.C.