© 2022 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local News

Judge Brown-Jackson poised to make history

Judge Brown-Jackson
Carolyn Kaster
/
AP
FILE - Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Joe Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Cross Hall of the White House, Feb. 25, 2022, in Washington.

The confirmation process is now underway for Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson to become the first African-American woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“For too long, our government — our courts — haven’t looked like America,” President Joe Biden said last week. “I believe it’s time that we have a court that reflects the full talent and greatness of our nation. With a nominee of extraordinary qualifications.”

During his presidential campaign, Biden promised to nominate a Black woman to the high court — which he did two years to the day he made that promise.

“I’ve always had a deep respect for the Supreme Court and the judiciary as a coequal branch of the government," the president said. “I’m pleased to nominate Judge Jackson, who will bring extraordinary qualifications, deep experience and intellect, and a rigorous judicial record to the court.”

HK Matthews.jpg
Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
/
Rev. H.K. Matthews

Jackson, who was selected from four candidates, has served as a federal appeals judge in Washington, D.C., since 2013. She would fill the vacancy left by the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, for whom she was a clerk.

“Justice Breyer exemplified every day — in every way — that a Supreme Court justice can perform at the highest level of skill and integrity, while also being guided by civility, grace, pragmatism, and generosity of spirit,” Jackson said.

Jackson told the gathering that she shares a birthday with the first Black woman to be appointed a federal judge: Constance Baker Motley in 1966. Today, said Jackson, she stands on Judge Motley’s shoulders.

“Sharing not only her birthday, but also her steadfast and courageous commitment to equal justice under law,” she said. “And if I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed, I can only hope that my love of this country and the Constitution will inspire future generations.”

“He [Biden] made the promise, which I thought was a good thing; it might not have been the choice of some of his closest advisers during the campaign, but the lady has proven herself throughout the judicial ranks that she’s able to handle it,” said Rev. H.K. Matthews, a Pensacola native and Civil Rights icon.

He said it’s time for a woman of color on the high court, but added the court should lean not toward blackness, but rather fairness. Matthews added that the confirmation process could be a bumpy one.

“I think she will be one who will be fair in her ruling,” said Matthews. “I’m not disappointed, not surprised, but disturbed by those on the right who have already geared themselves up to fight against her confirmation.”

Historically, Ketanji Brown-Jackson would be the third Black Supreme Court justice if confirmed. To Matthews’ way of thinking, she would be the second, after Justice Thurgood Marshall.

“We do have a person of color on the court by the name of Clarence Thomas, who is not representative of justice for all,” said Matthews. “He’s just there as a token to be used by those who are against everything that is taught [about] fairness for everybody.”

Judge Jackson was selected from four female African-American jurists under consideration by the president. Matthews said he had no favorite; all four are eminently qualified.

“I am not concerned about the wrong Black or the right white; I’m concerned about a person who is going to be representative of all of God’s children,” said Matthews. “And I think any four of those judges would serve us with justice.”