- The Washington Times - Friday, February 25, 2022

President Biden will nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer, fulfilling a campaign promise to select the first Black female judge in history to the nation’s highest court.

“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,” the president posted on Twitter.

He is expected to make a formal announcement about the nomination Friday afternoon.

Judge Jackson was appointed to the prestigious U.S. Circuit Court for District of Columbia last June by Mr. Biden. Prior to joining the D.C. Circuit, Judge Jackson spent eight years on the U.S. District Court for Washington, where she issued more than 500 opinions.

During that time, Judge Jackson impressed liberals with her rulings in cases against former President Donald Trump. Conservatives, though, have criticized her as having a record of reaching beyond her authority as a judge.

She ruled against Mr. Trump’s attempt to prevent the release of White House records concerning the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol. She also sided with congressional Democrats in their attempt to get Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Don McGahn, to testify in their impeachment inquiries against the former president.

In 2017, Judge Jackson sentenced the “Pizzagate” shooter to four years in prison. The infamous case involved a pizza parlor in Washington where a man from North Carolina opened fire after a false right-wing conspiracy theory was circulated online, claiming the restaurant was at the center of an alleged child-sex abuse ring involving influential Democrats.

Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, said that in the case involving Mr. McGahn’s testimony, Judge Jackson suggested Mr. Trump was trying to be a king — language that Mrs. Severino said was “intemperate” for a judge.

Nevertheless, Judge Jackson was long viewed as a frontrunner for Mr. Biden’s high court pick by experts — even before Justice Breyer announced his plans to retire.

She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and also previously clerked for Justice Breyer, whom she will be replacing should she be confirmed later this year. Judge Jackson has a wide range of experience as a lawyer, having worked in both private practice and as an assistant federal public defender.

“A former clerk for Justice Breyer, Judge Jackson has broad experience across the legal profession – as a federal appellate judge, a federal district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an attorney in private practice, and as a federal public defender,” the White House touted her credentials in a press release.

Shortly after the president vowed to fill a vacancy on the high court with a Black woman, Mr. Biden elevated Judge Jackson from the district court to the circuit court. The D.C. appellate court is considered a stepping stone to the high court.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and Justice Clarence Thomas — a third of the current justices on the bench — all sat on the D.C. Circuit prior to being elevated.

Dan Goldberg, legal director at the progressive Alliance for Justice, said Judge Jackson has a record that should receive bipartisan support during the confirmation process. He said she was confirmed to her district judgeship and her appellate court seat with support from both Democrat and Republican senators.

With a 50-50 Senate, though, Democrats can’t afford to lose a single vote for her confirmation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold hearings for Judge Brown Jackson in the coming weeks, where senators will quiz her over her rulings ahead of a confirmation vote.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, has set a goal of confirming the president’s nominee before the Senate leaves for Easter recess in early April.

Democrats welcomed the nomination. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Judge Jackson will protect the rights of the “voiceless and vulnerable.”

“I commend President Biden on undertaking a thoughtful, deliberate selection process for the next Supreme Court Justice. Once the President sends Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Senate, Senate Democrats will work to ensure a fair, timely, and expeditious process – fair to the nominee, to the Senate, and to the American public,” Mr. Schumer said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, applauded the nomination as historical, with Judge Jackson becoming the first Black female on the high court once confirmed.

She has excelled during her tenure on the D.C. District Court as well as on the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding individual rights and the rule of law – and doing so as a proud working mother. Judge Jackson will also be the first federal public defender to serve on the Supreme Court, bringing extensive courtroom experience to the bench,” Ms. Pelosi said. 

Senate Republicans said they’ll be ready for a fair confirmation process for Judge Jackson.

“No matter what, Judge Jackson will be given the dignity and respect she deserves. The American people will see a starkly different process from the treatment of Justice Kavanaugh and other judicial nominees during the previous Administration,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, and member of the Judiciary Committee. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, also said they want to avoid the controversial confirmation hearings that have taken place in recent years when Democrats and liberal advocates protested the confirmation of Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

“Senate Republicans believe the Court and the country deserve better than Senate Democrats’ routine of baseless smears and shameless distortions,” he said, noting he voted against Judge Jackson’s confirmation to the D.C. Circuit.

“Since then, I understand that she has published a total of two opinions, both in the last few weeks, and that one of her prior rulings was just reversed by a unanimous panel of her present colleagues on the D.C. Circuit. I also understand Judge Jackson was the favored choice of far-left dark-money groups that have spent years attacking the legitimacy and structure of the Court itself,” he added.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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