Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in as Supreme Court justice

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Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in as Supreme Court justice

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was officially sworn in as the first black woman on the Supreme Court Thursday, just minutes after Justice Stephen Breyer stepped down from his seat.

Jackson, 51, was sworn in shortly after noon, two hours after the high court issued its final two opinions of a momentous term.

Breyer, for whom Jackson once clerked, and Chief Justice John Roberts administered the two oaths a new justice is required to swear. Jackson is the 116th person to become a Supreme Court justice. 

Jackson, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, was confirmed to replace Breyer in April in a 53-47 Senate vote, with three Republican lawmakers siding with the Democrats. 

President Biden first nominated Jackson to the position in late February, touting her “extraordinary qualifications” at the time.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was officially sworn in just minutes after Justice Stephen Breyer stepped down from his seat.
Supreme Court of the United States/Handout via REUTERS
Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first black woman on the Supreme Court.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

After graduating from Harvard Law in 1996, Jackson held numerous jobs in the legal fields, including clerking for multiple federal jurists. From 2005 to 2007, she worked as an assistant federal public defender. During that time period, she represented Guantanmo Bay prisoner and Afghan terror suspect Khi Ali Gul. 

Not long after, former President Barack Obama nominated Jackson to the DC district court, where she handed down many sentences related to child pornography cases. Those sentences came under heavy scrutiny during her confirmation hearings as some Republicans declared them to be too lenient.

During her tenure on the district court, she also sentenced Edgar Maddison Welch to four year in prison for opening fire in a busy DC pizzeria while “investigating” “Pizzagate” — a bizarre conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton was behind a child sex ring.

In early 2021, Jackson was nominated to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals by Biden to replace Attorney general Merrick Garland. She was also approved to the position with bipartisan support.

Joe Biden and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
President Biden first nominated now-Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in late February.
Andrew Harnik/AP
Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was formerly a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
Elizabeth Frantz/REUTERS

During her time on the DC Circuit, Jackson was among the three judges who ruled against former President Donald Trump in his bid to withhold documents from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol.

Jackson is now the fourth Supreme Court Justice to be elevated from the DC Circuit, DC Circuit, joining Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Previous DC Circuit alums to join the court also include late Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well as former Chief Justice Warren Burger.

Her ascension to the Court does not alert the current ideological composition, which currently has six conservative justices and three liberals.  

People celebrate the historic Senate confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
People celebrate the Senate confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court.
Will Oliver/EPA
People celebrate the historic Senate confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to replace Justice Stephen Breyer in April in a 53-47 Senate vote.
Will Oliver/EPA

Jackson has two daughters with husband Patrick Jackson, the chief of general surgery at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington. She is also related to former House Speaker Paul Ryan through marriage. Jackson’s husband is the twin brother of Ryan’s brother-in-law. 

The Supreme Court is set to begin its next term in October.

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