This week, hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee began for D.C. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, which would make her the fourth woman Justice to serve on the Court at the same time. President Biden nominated Judge Jackson earlier in March to replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer who is retiring after over 20 years on the Court. The nomination is historic for several reasons and with the hearings occurring during Women’s History month, it is an example of the importance of honoring diversity at all levels of the branches of government.
During the first day of her confirmation hearings, Judge Jackson detailed her personal and professional history. She spoke in personal terms about her childhood, including her first exposure to the law as a young child while her father was a full-time law student, and her mother supported their family. She introduced her daughters and talked about navigating “the challenges of juggling my career and motherhood.”
She also talked broadly about her time as a Judge and her approach to judicial rulings: “I decide cases from a neutral posture. I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath. I know that my role as a judge is a limited one, that the Constitution empowers me only to decide cases and controversies that are properly presented. And I know that my judicial role is further constrained by careful adherence to precedent.”
Senator Feinstein discussed the historic nature of her confirmation because, for the first time, there could be four female members of the Supreme Court serving at the same time. Judge Jackson responded: “I think it’s extremely meaningful. One of the things that having diverse members of the Court does is it provides for the opportunity for role models. Since I was nominated to this position, I have received so many notes and letters and photos from little girls around the country who tell me that they are so excited for this opportunity and that they have thought about the law in new ways because I am a woman, because I am a Black woman — all of those things people have said have been really meaningful to them. And we want, I think, as a country, for everyone to believe that they can do things like sit on the Supreme Court. And so having meaningful numbers of women and people of color, I think, matters.”
Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearings continue throughout the week after which time her nomination will be presented to the full Senate for a vote which is aimed to occur in early April.