President Biden on Friday unveiled his choice for the soon-to-be-vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, nominating appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and labeling her "exceptionally qualified."
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Jackson would be the first African American woman and the first former federal public defender to serve on the nation's highest court.
Jackson has a thin record as a judge on hot-button cultural issues, although as an attorney, she represented abortion rights groups in a case.
Conservative commentators labeled her an extremist.
Jackson was confirmed just last year to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where she currently sits. She previously served as a U.S. federal district judge beginning in 2013.
Jackson would replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring.
"She is one of our nation's brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice," Biden said in a tweet ahead of a news conference.
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.https://t.co/iePvhz1YaA pic.twitter.com/Nzqv2AtN8h— President Biden (@POTUS) February 25, 2022
A White House news release said Biden sought a nominee with "exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law." Additionally, he wanted someone who "is committed to equal justice under the law and who understands the profound impact that the Supreme Court's decisions have on the lives of the American people," the news release said.
Some legal experts on the right, though, said Jackson is an extremist.
"In nominating Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden is selecting a judicial activist for the Supreme Court," said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute. "Her record from the beginning of her career shows hostility to religious liberty, free speech, and other constitutional rights. The American people do not want a liberal extremist on the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Judge Jackson's judicial activism will place the constitutional rights of all Americans in jeopardy."
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, an attorney and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Jackson's nomination "means the radical Left has won President Biden over yet again."
I expect a respectful but interesting hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 25, 2022
The Harvard-Yale train to the Supreme Court continues to run unabated.
Ed Whelan, a distinguished senior fellow for the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said Jackson is "not a 'radical'" in "either substance or style" but instead is a "run-of-the-mill progressive" in judicial philosophy.
"That's reason enough for R senators to oppose her," Whelan said.
BuzzFeed News reported that Jackson has not ruled on abortion cases as a judge.
But in 2001, Jackson signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief representing the Abortion Access Project of Massachusetts and NARAL Pro-Choice America, ScotusBlog.com reported. The brief backed a Massachusetts law that "created a floating 'buffer zone' around pedestrians and cars approaching abortion clinics," according to ScotusBlog.com.
Jackson lives with her husband, Patrick, and their two daughters in Washington, D.C.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pool
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.