Ketanji Brown Jackson hopes his Supreme Court nomination will increase African Americans' confidence in the American justice system.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, hopes her “slightly different” life experience will be an asset to the top court, though her arrival won't change any balance.
This brilliant 51-year-old lawyer, appointed by Democratic President Joe Biden, was sworn in on Thursday before the head of the highest court, where no one sat, in 233 years old, only two black men and no African American women.
She replaces progressive judge Stephen Breyer, who is retiring at 83 and comes at a pivotal moment: under the impetus of his majority conservative magistrates, the Court has taken a clear right turn, consolidating the right to wear clothes. #x27;weapons and pulverizing the one to abortion.
Ketanji Brown Jackson hopes to help repair the court's degraded image. During her congressional hearing in April, she embraced her role as a role model for little girls across the country and hoped her confirmation would increase African Americans' confidence in the justice system.
But she especially insisted on another of her differences. While most of her colleagues have distinguished themselves as prosecutors, Ketanji Brown Jackson has worked on the side of the defendants: for two years she was a lawyer in the legal aid services in Washington, where she defended defendants without resources.
During her hearing, she explained that she was struck by their ignorance of the law and that, once she became a judge, she took great care to explain her decisions to the convicted, so that they understood the seriousness of their acts and the sanction imposed.
She also has intimate experience of the penal system: in 1989, one of her uncles received a life sentence in connection with ;a law that automatically imposed this sentence after three violations of the narcotics rules.
Although she knew him little, this family experience made her aware of the impact of the law on people's lives, a friend told the Washington Post, under the guise of x27;anonymity.
Ketanji Brown Jackson had a stable childhood in a family of teachers living in Florida. Out of pride in their heritage and hope for the future, her parents gave her an African name, Ketanji Onyika, meaning the charming one, she told Congress.
Unlike them, who experienced segregation personally, she pointed to her luck in being born after the great civil rights struggles of the 1960s that brought down many racist laws.
She was able to attend schools for students of diverse ethnic origins – where she distinguished herself in eloquence contests -, earn a diploma from the prestigious Harvard University and lead a rich career, all while founding a family with a white surgeon.
As soon as she finished her studies, she practiced in the temple of American law, as assistant to Judge Stephen Breyer. She then alternated experiences in the private sector – in law firms – and the public, notably at the Sentencing Commission, an independent agency responsible for harmonizing criminal policy in the United States.
In 2013, she took a new step: Democratic President Barack Obama appointed her a federal judge in Washington.
Over the next eight years, she rendered dozens of decisions. She notably disavows Donald Trump, who is trying to prevent Congress from summoning one of his advisers, writing: Presidents are not kings.
Upon her arrival at the White House, Joe Biden appointed her to the influential Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, considered a springboard for the Supreme Court. Logically, he chose her in February to replace Judge Breyer, who at 83 had decided to step down.
Repeatedly, the president praised her extraordinary qualifications, her vast experience, his intellect, and his rigorous record as a judge.
During his hearing, several Republican elected officials accused him of having handed down sentences that were too light for child pornographers, echoing their denunciation of a supposedly lax Joe Biden.
Underlining her impartiality, she defends her decisions and refuses to be drawn into their ideological battles.< /p>
During her previous confirmation process, she had already sworn to keep aside, in her work as a judge, her opinions and any other inappropriate considerations, including her skin color .
But maybe I have a different life experience than my colleagues, she added. And I hope it can be of interest.