When President Joe Biden announced a list of judicial nominations on March 29 last year, a nomination to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stood out among veteran court watchers.
Biden’s choice for the position once held by current US Attorney General Merrick Garland was US District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Florida native and double Harvard graduate (BA and law school) who had been appointed a federal judge by then-President Barack Obama. in 2013.
Ms. Jackson’s choice for the vacancy created by Mr. Garland’s move to the Justice Department would make her the only black female judge on a court of appeals that has produced three of the current nine Supreme Court justices: Clarence Thomas , Brett Kavanaugh and the Chief Justice. John Roberts, and served by former Chief Justices Warren Burger and Fred Vinson, as well as Associate Justices Wiley Blount Rutledge, Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg before being appointed to the Supreme Court.
Now, with Justice Stephen Breyer set to resign at the end of the court’s current term, Biden is poised to deliver on his 2020 campaign promise to appoint a black woman to serve on the highest court in the United States. And Jackson, who was commissioned as a circuit court judge on June 17 of last year, is now considered a front-runner to be Biden’s pick to replace the court’s longest-serving liberal judge.
Ms. Brown has been under consideration for a Supreme Court seat before. When Justice Scalia unexpectedly passed away in early 2016, she was one of five candidates then-President Barack Obama interviewed before choosing Garland to succeed Scalia.
Ironically, Breyer’s retirement while the Senate is in Democrat hands means that she, or any of Biden’s court picks, will not suffer the fate of Garland, who never received a hearing on her nomination.
After he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee last April, only one Republican, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, voted to advance his nomination to the full Senate. Only three on the Republican side, Senators Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham and Lisa Murkowski, voted to confirm her to the DC Circuit.
Here’s what you need to know about Ms. Brown.
She is related to a former top House Republican.
Since 1999, Ms. Brown has been married to the chief of gastrointestinal surgery at Georgetown University Hospital, Dr. Patrick Brown.
Dr. Brown has a brother, William, who is married to a woman named Dana Little, whose sister Janna is married to former House Speaker Paul Ryan.
He worked in journalism before attending law school.
According to a questionnaire submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Jackson spent 1992 and 1993 working as a reporter and investigator for HOUR magazine.
She once clerked for the Supreme Court Justice she would replace if nominated
From 1999 to 2000, Ms. Jackson served as Judge Breyer’s clerk. She also clerked for First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bruce Selya from 1997 to 1998 and Massachusetts District Judge Patti Sarlis from 1996 to 1997.
She would be the only member of the Supreme Court to have served as a public defender
Many of the sitting judges on the high court served as prosecutors before being appointed to the court. Judge Sonya Sotomayor spent several years as an Assistant District Attorney for New York City after graduating from Harvard Law School. Judge Samual Alito served for three years as New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor before then-President George HW Bush nominated him for the job in 1990. And Judge Brett Kavanaugh served as deputy independent counsel during the years of investigating Kenneth Starr on Bill Clinton.
But Ms. Jackson would be the first Supreme Court justice in recent memory to have spent time representing indigent criminal defendants, having served as an Assistant Federal Defender in DC from 2005 to 2007.
She has angered Republicans with rulings in high-profile cases involving former President Donald Trump.
As a district court judge, Ms. Jackson made headlines when she issued a ruling in November 2019 ordering former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
McGahn had argued that, as a senior Trump aide, he enjoyed “absolute immunity” from being forced to testify in the committee’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Ms. Jackson wrote in her opinion that “absolute immunity from forced legislative process simply does not exist…because subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and under the Constitution, no one is above of the law”.
In December, he was a member of a three-judge panel that upheld U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s opinion that Trump could not prevent the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection from obtaining White House records. about which Biden had refused to state that the executive privilege.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.