Federal Courts and Nominations

Legal Community Reacts With Praise, Sense of History, on Jackson’s Confirmation

A cross-section of the nation’s legal community, including appellate advocates, law professors, and legal and political advocacy groups, largely praised the U.S. Senate’s historic confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Senate on Thursday voted 53-47 to confirm Jackson who currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She will not officially be “Justice” Jackson until she takes the judicial oath. That ceremony likely will follow quickly after Justice Stephen Breyer retires.

President Joseph Biden nominated the 51-year-old judge in February to succeed Breyer who announced he will step down at the end of current term in late June or early July. With her confirmation Thursday, Jackson will have a solid headstart in preparing for the next term which begins on the first Monday in October.

Here’s a look at what the legal community is saying:

>> Ronald Klain, chief of staff for President Joseph Biden: “History doesn’t happen by accident. 81 million people voted for @POTUS in a pandemic to make it possible for the first Black woman @VP to preside over the confirmation of the first Black woman to serve on #SCOTUS. If you voted, you helped make this happen.” [Twitter]

>> Letitia James, New York attorney general: “Today, history was made. As the first Black woman confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is an inspiration to millions, including Black girls who will finally see themselves represented on America’s highest court.” [Twitter]

>> David Cole, national legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union: “First Black woman and first public defender. Historic day.” [Twitter]

>> Joseph Palmore, co-chair of the Supreme Court and appellate practice at Morrison & Foerster: “It’s not every day that an alum of your firm (and practice group!) is confirmed to the Supreme Court, but today is such a day. Huge congrats to Ketanji Brown Jackson!” [Twitter]

>> Kannon Shanmugam, head of the Supreme Court and appellate practice at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison: “Congratulations to my friend, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, on her confirmation to the Supreme Court.” [Twitter]

>> Russ Feingold, president of the American Constitution Society: “Throughout the confirmation process, Judge Jackson’s exceptional qualifications, fair-mindedness, and unimpeachable record shined through. After 233 years, the first Black woman and former public defender will soon sit on the Supreme Court, bringing a perspective never before included in the high court’s deliberations. ACS celebrates this historic confirmation and looks forward to Judge Jackson assuming her seat on our highest court later this year.”

>> Stephen Vladeck, University of Texas School of Law: There have been nine pairs of #SCOTUS Justices with the same last name — Chase, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Lamar, Marshall, Roberts, Rutledge and White. There’s never been a trio…And now there has.” [Twitter]

>> John Barrett, professor at St. John’s University Law School: “Congratulations to the United States, today becoming a more perfect union. And very best wishes to Judge and future U.S. Supreme Court justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.” [Twitter]

>> Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina: “My ‘no’ vote was based upon Judge Jackson’s record of judicial activism, flawed sentencing methodology regarding child pornography cases and a belief that she will not be deterred by the plain meaning of the law when it comes to liberal causes.” [Twitter]

>> Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center: “This is a great day for America. Justice Jackson is a superb, fair-minded jurist. She has a powerful commitment to equal justice, and has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to the text, history and values of the whole Constitution. She understands how the law affects people, drawing upon her professional as well as her lived experiences. And she is now, after 233 years and 115 justices, the first Black woman Supreme Court Justice, as well as the first member of the high court to have once served as a public defender.”​

>> Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center: “I applaud the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her passion for justice and compassion for the most vulnerable will be a breath of fresh air. Her support for and understanding of public health and safety will have a huge impact on upholding the right to health in the United States. As the Supreme Court is set to soon determine some of the most consequential cases for the right to health in decades, I have no doubt that Justice Jackson’s life experience and impeccable legal preparation will guide her to decisions that will defend human rights, protect the marginalized, and further justice for all.”

>> Carl Cecere, Cecere PC: “Congratulations to Judge Brown on her confirmation! I hope you take some well deserved time off before you start work at the end of June. May I suggest a cycling trip?” [Twitter]

>> Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network: “With the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson today, the behemoth Arabella Advisors network gets a rubber stamp on the Court. For as long as she serves, expect Justice Jackson to deliver from the bench the liberal policy agendas pushed by their radical dark money groups.”

>> Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “We acknowledge that the Supreme Court has a long way to go toward fully representing our communities and fulfilling the promise of ‘equal justice under law,’ but this confirmation brings us hope that it is possible. We celebrate this historic moment as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes a justice for all.” [statement]

>> Kelly Shackelford, president and chief counsel, First Liberty Institute: “As a group dedicated to defending religious freedom, we are deeply concerned that Judge Jackson will not protect our nation’s first freedom.  Although Judge Jackson conceded religious liberty is a “fundamental right,” we remain unconvinced that she will protect that right based on her repeated refusals to specify her judicial philosophy or what she believes the free exercise of religion means.  We hope that as a Supreme Court Justice, Judge Jackson will reject the urge to legislate from the bench, as her past record so far indicates, and instead will choose to faithfully defend our freedoms and interpret the Constitution according to its original meaning.”

>> Mike Davis, president of the Article III Project: “Senators who voted to confirm a justice with a 25-year legal record of extreme, disqualifying empathy and leniency toward child sex predators must be held accountable by their constituents.”

>> Justice Sarah Beth Landau, Texas 1st Court of Appeals: “And the first public defender! And the first criminal defense attorney since Justice Thurgood Marshall! Congratulations, Justice Jackson! Pardon me while I tear up in a happy way.” [Twitter]

>> Kimberly Mutcherson, co-dean, Rutgers Law School: “A rainy day outside, but I’m feeling nothing but good vibes right now as we watch history in the making! #SheWillRise” [Twitter]

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