Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in Friday at a special Supreme Court session attended by President Joe Biden as well as legal luminaries from across Washington who gathered to celebrate the first time a black woman took its seat at the highest court of the land.
Chief Justice John Roberts wished Jackson “a long and happy career in our common appeal.”
Biden did not speak during the brief ceremony.
The nomination was purely ceremonial, as Jackson has been in office since June and has already voted on emergency nominations. But she has yet to sit for oral argument, and Friday marked her debut in the royal chamber which will now be her professional home for decades to come.
At the start of Friday’s ceremony, Jackson sat in the well of the chamber on a chair used by Chief Justice John Marshall in the early 19th century. The court is steeped in tradition and the session was opened when Gail Curley, the Marshal of the Court, struck the gavel and presented the court with the traditional shout which begins with the familiar words ‘oyez, oyez, oyez’.
The eight judges, including three women, Judge Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett smiled broadly. Retired Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement last June, watched from a seat in the audience as Jackson, his former clerk, took his place.
After Scott Harris, the court clerk, read Jackson’s commission, she was escorted to the bench and Roberts administered the judicial oath.
The audience included Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was appointed to the High Court by President Barack Obama in 2016 but was barred from serving when Republicans refused to hold hearings. On Friday, he sat with Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar and Senior Deputy Solicitor General Brian Fletcher at the lawyers’ table in front of the bench.
Also in the audience were Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff as well as Jackson’s two daughters, Leila and Talia, his parents Ellery and Johnny Brown, his brother Ketajh and the former president. of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin. related to Brown by marriage.
Several of the justices’ wives sat on a special bench, including conservative activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, who appeared before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection yesterday to testify about his activities around the 2020 elections.
Key Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones — who was Jackson’s “sherpa” during the confirmation process — were in attendance.
After the ceremony, Jackson descended the steps in front of the Supreme Court with Roberts and was greeted by her husband, Dr. Patrick G. Jackson.
Jackson’s inauguration comes on the eve of a new term and two days after the justices first met at their annual conference behind closed doors to discuss pending petitions. The last term ended with a spectrum of opinions that divided the court along ideological lines and the historical opinion of Dobbs versus Jackson, who upset Roe versus Wade.
The upcoming term will feature instances where race plays a dominant role, including a challenge to college affirmative action plans as well as a dispute over the scope of a key section of the Voting Rights Act that prohibits discriminatory voting practices or procedures on the basis of race.
Jackson, the nation’s first black female judge, will address these and other issues during her first term. Five months ago, she stood on the South Lawn of the White House after her confirmation and spoke of the “gifts that my ancestors gave.” Quoting poet Dr. Maya Angelou, Jackson added, “I am a slave’s dream and hope.
This story has been updated with additional details.
#Justice #Ketanji #Brown #Jackson #sworn #Supreme #Court #CNN #Politics