President Joseph R. Biden announced his first nominee to the Supreme Court on Friday, fulfilling a campaign promise to appoint the first Black woman to the high court. The nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since June. The following is a statement from Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:
“We applaud the Biden Administration for taking this historic step for the Supreme Court and for our country. For the first time in our nation’s history, the nation’s highest court will have four female justices and three justices of color serving together—including two Black justices.
“We also applaud the Administration for its progress in diversifying the federal courts overall. Our judiciary can be a driver of fairness and equality; but it is critical that the courts reflect the rich racial, ethnic and gender diversity of our nation. Unfortunately, our federal and state courts have lagged far behind in these areas for generations, denying many talented women and people of color the opportunity to serve as a member of the judiciary.
“Detractors have assailed the president’s promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court as something unheard of in our country’s history, ignoring the fact leaders from both political parties have considered identity in selecting prior nominees. President Ronald Reagan fulfilled his campaign pledge to nominate the first female Supreme Court justice when he nominated Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981. More recently, President Donald Trump announced that he would appoint a female justice following the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and he ultimately appointed now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
These attacks are not new, but they must be confronted with the truth. Even without President Biden’s promise, some critics would have claimed that any Black nominee or nominee of color had an unfair advantage. Those same critics also ignore the sorry lack of diversity for decades in which only white men were nominated and confirmed to serve on our nation’s highest Court. We call upon every member of the U.S. Senate to reject racialized critiques and give Judge Jackson a fair hearing and opportunity to be confirmed based upon her qualifications.
“Of course, it is imperative that the nominee’s presence on the Supreme Court advance not only diversity, but also civil rights and racial justice issues. Like all nominees to the Supreme Court, we will review Judge Jackson’s record on these issues and issue a public report. It is notable that this nomination comes at a time when the hard-earned progress of the civil rights movement is under relentless attack. Anti-democratic forces are attacking the right to vote, implementing policies to limit the teaching of the nation’s history of racism, and seeking to legitimize the violence we witnessed during the Capitol insurrection last year. We look forward to new energy on the Supreme Court to address these issues and other challenges facing our nation.
A statement released by the office Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty stated, “This is a historic day for America. If confirmed, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. The Congressional Black Caucus applauds President Biden for his outstanding leadership and commitment to ensuring our courts look like our country.”
The chairwoman continued, “Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the third Black Supreme Court Justice, the fifth woman, and the first African American nominated to the Supreme Court in more than 30 years. The CBC will be laser-focused on ensuring she receives a full and fair hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. We are also prepared to combat anyone who may use personal attacks or bigoted language to discredit Judge Jackson. Sadly, weknow that Black women in positions of power often face the ugliest forms of racist and sexist attacks. Despite this, in the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘weshall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty.