Nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to US Supreme Court a historic moment for women of color
If Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed as a United States Supreme Court justice, it will be the first time a Black woman has sat on the bench. It would also be the first time two Black people were justices at the same time.
President Joe Biden followed through on a campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Brown Jackson is a federal appeals court judge.
"The federal government, historically, hasn't always kept its promises. Especially with regard to African American representation and civil rights,” says Dr. Lindsey Swindall, an African American studies historian at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Swindall says the Supreme Court has made decisions throughout history that directly impacted the lives of Black Americans without direct representation. That was until 1967 when Thurgood Marshall became the first Black Supreme Court justice. Swindall says this could be a similar moment in history.
“Sometimes in our history at the times things seem most contentious and most divided, these openings do occur for progress. Thurgood Marshall was nominated to the court as the Civil Rights movement was king od beginning to fracture,” Swindall says.
Swindall says this is one of the final barriers in terms of seeing Black women in important positions of leadership. She says Brown Jackson will join a growing list of Black women in leadership roles within the highest branches of government, like former First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“This is the natural time for this to happen and I think also drawing upon women's leadership skills at a time when things are so divided and contentious, this could help to build consensus, build bridges,” she says.
Swindall says historically Supreme Court decisions have heavily impacted communities of color and women without the representation to match.
"For African American families and other diverse families, to be able to look at the court and say, ‘Well now we do see faces that look more like our populations,’ I think that's so important,” Swindall says.
Judge Brown Jackson would be replacing Justice Stephen Breyer who will be retiring. She clerked for Breyer as a young attorney. Judge Brown Jackson's nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate.