As the Supreme Court faces civil unrest, Ketanji Brown Jackson makes history as its first Black woman justice

By Connie Lin

Ketanji Brown Jackson is set to become the first Black woman justice in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Just after 12 p.m. eastern time, Jackson will be sworn in as the court’s 116th justice, minutes after justice Stephen Breyer retires. And when that happens, she will join the bench of a court in the eye of a storm. In recent weeks, a flurry of end-of-term verdicts handed down from the highest court in the land have become a national flashpoint, galvanizing protests across the country over the loss of reproductive rights, the striking down of gun control law, and the ever-blurrier line separating church and state.

Jackson will also join as a minority liberal justice on a 6-3 conservative-leaning bench. After a run of conservative victories, the Supreme Court released its final decisions before summer recess earlier today: one that crippled the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to fight climate change, and another that greenlit an end to the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy. In the fall, the first case slated for Jackson’s review will concern federal jurisdiction over wetlands through the Clean Water Act.

Jackson, who was nominated by president Biden in February and confirmed by the Senate in April, was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Miami, Florida. She went on to collect a succession of degrees from Harvard University’s undergraduate college—where she led a protest against a student’s displaying of a Confederate flag in a dorm room window—and Harvard Law School, where she served as editor of the Harvard Law Review. In succeeding Breyer, she will take the place of the Supreme Court justice for whom she once clerked.

“It took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Jackson said in a post-confirmation speech on the White House lawn this spring. “It is an honor of a lifetime.”

Jackson’s swearing-in ceremony will be broadcast live on CBS News, available through mobile device or streaming service apps. YouTube link below.


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