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The first Black woman appointed to the Supreme Court will be extraordinary, but she can’t save the Supreme Court
8:19 AM PT -- President Biden just made the announcement official, saying, "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."
A 51-year-old federal appeals court judge is poised to become the first-ever black woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court.
President Biden is set to nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who sits on the prestigious Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. ... this according to ABC News.
Biden reportedly called Jackson to offer her the nom and she accepted during a call Thursday night.
Biden was true to his word when he said during the 2020 campaign he would nominate a Black woman.
In her early career, Jackson was a federal public defender. She'd be the first, former federal public defender to serve on the High Court since Thurgood Marshall. This is significant -- most of the Justices have no practical experience in the criminal justice system ... at least no experience in the trenches.
As for her chances, well there's a razor-thin Democrat majority in the Senate, but confirmation is likely unless there are surprises. Jackson's already been confirmed by the Senate 3 times -- twice when she was elevated to 2 federal courts and a third time when she was confirmed to sit on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
As for how Jackson could change the court ... not much for the immediate future. She's replacing a like-minded jurist in Breyer, so the balance of power is still 6-3 in favor of conservative justices.
And, fun fact ... while she was at Harvard she acted opposite Matt Damon in a drama class.
OPINION: The presence of a Black female justice cannot fix the structural issues facing the court. Only expanding the Supreme Court can do that.
Soon, President Joe Biden will nominate the first Black female Supreme Court justice—a moment that is long overdue. We believe in the power of representation in the highest ranks of government; we celebrate this, and we have every expectation that Biden will nominate an extraordinary lawyer committed to equal justice under the law.
But, this dynamic woman alone will not save the Supreme Court. The six-three Republican supermajority that currently dominates the court is the result of decades-long work by the right-wing legal movement whose goal has been to install partisans dedicated to helping Republicans score favorable political outcomes, not to deliver justice.
Representation is important, but it is not enough when the institution that the first Black female justice is entering is broken. If we are to see the fullness of this historic moment, we must fight for a Supreme Court that works for us all. The presence of a Black female justice cannot fix the structural issues facing our court. Only Supreme Court expansion can do that.
We know that after a nominee is announced, there will be a lot of discussion of her extraordinary qualifications, abilities and her superb legal mind. As is often the case when Black women shatter glass ceilings, people may unfairly and unrealistically believe that this forthcoming justice will have the ability to singlehandedly rebalance and transform this institution.
Some may be tempted to put their hopes in her ability to somehow temper the direction of this court. But the Republican-appointed justices are not warping the direction of the law because they have not heard brilliant enough arguments against it; they are doing it because they can. It has been their intention to play the long game for the past several decades to ultimately reach the crisis moment that we are currently in—the moment to seize opportunities to overturn Roe v. Wade, completely eviscerate the Voting Rights Act, end affirmative action and trample on so many other civil rights issues.
We should celebrate what it means for Black women and girls to finally see themselves on the highest court in the land. But, if we then turn our attention away from the broken institution she will work within, it would mirror the way we too often treat Black women in America: celebrating diversity without reforming the institutions and structures so that they actually value the input and work of Black women. Putting a Black woman in the Supreme Court’s private conferences for the first time in history will mark an important step forward, but unless we send her four more colleagues who share her commitment to equal justice under the law, we won’t be doing right by her or our democracy.
Expanding the Supreme Court to restore balance to the institution is an idea that has taken off among progressives recently. This time last year, there wasn’t even a bill in Congress to do it. Now the bill, the Judiciary Act of 2021, which would add four seats to the court, has the support of more than 50 members of the House and Senate. Adding seats is constitutional, and it’s been done multiple times throughout our country’s history. To achieve a Supreme Court that works for the American people, we need everyone involved in the fight to get it passed.
While Biden’s nominee will undoubtedly be incredibly talented, she will not be magic, and anyone who watched Brett Kavanaugh’sconfirmation hearing should know that convincing him to do anything else but pursue the Republican Party’s policy agenda on the court would require an act of divine intervention. Celebrating this Black woman’s accomplishments so much that we expect her to pull off the impossible isn’t empowering her; it’s setting her up to fail.