Biden will choose Kentanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman on the Supreme Court
US President Joe Biden will nominate federal appeals judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, a person familiar with the matter says, making her the first black woman selected to serve on a court that once declared her race unworthy of citizenship and endorsed segregation.
In Jackson, Biden is delivering on his campaign promise to make the historic date and further diversify a court staffed entirely by white men for nearly two centuries. He chose a female barrister who would be the High Court’s first former public defender, although she also has the elite legal training of other judges.
Jackson would be the second black judge on the current court — Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, is the other — and only the third in history.
The news was confirmed by a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it ahead of the president’s official announcement later in the day.
She would also only be the sixth woman to sit on the tribunal, and her confirmation would mean that for the first time four women would sit together on the nine-member tribunal.
The current court includes three women, one of whom is the court’s first Latina, Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
Jackson would join the liberal minority of a conservative-dominated court weighing cuts to abortion rights and consider ending affirmative action in college admissions and curtailing voting rights efforts to increase the representation of minorities.
Biden fills the seat that will be vacated by Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, who retires at the end of term this summer.
Jackson, 51, once worked as one of Breyer’s paralegals early in his legal career. She attended Harvard as an undergraduate and law school, and served on the US Sentencing Commission, the agency that develops federal sentencing policy, before becoming a federal judge in 2013.
His nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority by a wafer-thin 50-50 margin with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker. Party leaders have promised a quick but deliberate review of the president’s nominee.
The next judge will replace one of the more liberal judges, so she would not tip the scales of the court, which now tips 6-3 in favor of the conservatives.