““Justice Breyer, the members of the Senate will decide if I fill your seat, but please know that I could never fill your shoes.””
That was Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, who introduced herself to America during a White House event in February. Jackson will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week for her confirmation hearings.
Biden nominated Jackson, 51, to take the place of retiring Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. She’s currently sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and she has also been a federal public defender and served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Should she be confirmed, Jackson would be making history as the first Black woman serving on the highest court in the country. And at 51, she would be the second-youngest justice after Trump appointee Amy Coney Barrett, who is 50.
Her recent talking points appeared to be appealing to people across the country. She repeatedly expressed her love for the U.S. and the Constitution; she credited God and her faith for her blessings in life; and she noted that she has family in Florida and in law enforcement.
“I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking God for delivering me to this point in my professional journey,” she began. “My life has been blessed beyond measure, and I do know that one can only come this far by faith.”
And in counting her blessings, Jackson said that the very first was the fact that she was born in the U.S. in the first place. “The United States of America is the greatest beacon of hope and democracy the world has ever known,” she said.
She noted that her father — who has been married to her mother for 54 years, and now resides in Florida — set her on the legal path when he pivoted from being a high school history teacher, to going to law school.
And she pointed out that while she has an uncle “you may have read” about, “who got caught up in the drug trade” and received a life sentence — she also has a brother who is a Baltimore police officer and detective. She also listed uncles who are in law enforcement, including one who became the police chief in her hometown of Miami.
“Law enforcement also runs in my family,” she said.
And Jackson also thanked Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, whose place she would be potentially filling on the bench, who “gave me the greatest job that any young lawyer could ever hope to have” when she clerked for him during a term that began in 1999. She praised his “grace, pragmatism and generosity of spirit,” before saying that while she may one day take his seat (if the Senate confirms her, anyway), she could never fill his shoes.
She closed her remarks by sharing a curious coincidence: She has the same birthday as Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman to ever be appointed as a federal judge. “We were born exactly 49 years to the day apart,” Jackson said, adding that she stands on Motley’s shoulders “sharing not only her birthday, but also her steadfast and courageous commitment to equal justice under the law.”
“And if I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,” she continued, “I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation is founded, will inspire future generations of Americans.”
So what’s next? Jackson is going before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, when she is expected to present an opening statement, before answering questions from the committee’s 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans over the next two days.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently said there is “no question” that Jackson has the qualifications to be a Supreme Court justice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.