Ketanji Brown Jackson is the Supreme Court justice we need now | Remark


It is with deep joy that I write these words today: Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has been nominated to become our nation’s first black female Supreme Court justice. Among a group of outstanding black female lawyers, lawyers and lawyers, President Joe Biden chose Jackson for his stellar credentials and brilliant legal mind. We are delighted with this appointment; now the Senate must act quickly to confirm it.

In the weeks to come, we will all have the opportunity to learn more about Jackson’s story and his record. Her legal credentials are outstanding: a double Harvard graduate, earning both her undergraduate and law degrees with honors; a clerk for three federal justices – including the one she will succeed, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who called her “great” and “brilliant”; and a star in private practice and as a public defender in Washington, D.C.

The country will also know that Jackson wrote nearly 600 opinions when she was a U.S. District Court judge for the District of Columbia, before being elevated to circuit court – and has been overruled less than 12 times.

But just as important as Jackson’s resume is his character and his deep personal commitment to civil rights. Ketanji Brown Jackson could easily have chosen a lucrative career in private practice, advancing the interests of the rich and powerful. Instead, she chose public service. And that says a lot.

As a public defender, Jackson represented people who could not afford to hire an attorney. She chose to stand with these people in times of need and she saw the justice system through the eyes of vulnerable people. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this idea in the context of the Supreme Court.

As Vice President and Commissioner of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, she worked to end the huge sentencing gap for crack cocaine and powder cocaine, a gap that has had a devastating impact on black communities.

And on the bench, his opinions showed his dedication to upholding legal protections for people with disabilities, workers, immigrants, free speech and the environment. His commitment to seeing the humanity of everyone who appears in his courtroom is also evident.

In one notable case, Jackson heard of a deaf man who was incarcerated and denied even basic accommodations for his disability. Without an ASL interpreter, he could not understand the instructions. Another prisoner attacked him and he was placed in “preventive detention” which turned out to be solitary confinement – a decision he could not understand.

Jackson ruled that the correctional facility broke the law. Not only that, she has written eloquently and movingly about the importance of laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities. As she put it, “an entity that provides services to the public cannot sit idly by while people with disabilities attempt to use programs and services designed for able-bodied people.” It is a moral truth.

And of course, Jackson’s own lived experience as a black woman enriches her perspective on so many aspects of daily life in the United States. It’s a prospect that has never, ever existed on the pitch, in its 233 years.

This perspective is urgently needed today for many reasons, not least because we have reached a point in our history where racial equity and civil rights are facing more attack than they have been. for decades. Just as Justice Thurgood Marshall was a justice of his time, joining the Supreme Court at the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Jackson is needed now. There couldn’t have been a better time for the voice of a brilliant and insightful black woman in court, holding the line of truth and accountability.

That woman is future Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. It’s time.

Ben Jealous is President of People For the American Way and Professor of Practice in the Department of African Studies at the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches Leadership.


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