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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

First Black female justice appointed to SCOTUS


The confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court April 7 is a historic triumph for all Americans. When the U.S. Senate voted 53 to 47 to confirm her nomination, Jackson became the first Black female justice to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

“I am the dream and the hope of the slave,” said Judge Jackson, who quoted poet Maya Angelou on the news of her unprecedented confirmation. Jackson will be sworn in after Justice Stephen Breyer retires, sometime in late June or July.

“We have waited a very long time for this day. We welcome the addition of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her knowledge and skills as a qualified jurist bring to the Court a diversity that more accurately reflects who we are as a nation,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.

Making good on a campaign promise, President Joe Biden nominated Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court in February. She is the only SCOTUS jurist to also have served as a federal public defender.

“I applaud Judge Brown Jackson in this historic moment in which she stands,” said DC 37 Women’s Committee Chair and Local 420 President Carmen Charles. “Although the biased and partisan questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee showed the deepening racial divisions in our land, she rose above it all with grace and intelligence.

“President Biden’s nomination and her Senate confirmation coincides with the anniversary of Dr. King’s 1967 speech at Riverside Church,” Charles added. “It’s a barometer of President Biden’s understanding of what Dr. King called the ‘pressing need for America to confront panoramic crises that threaten the health of our democratic future,’ particularly the issue of race relations.”

During the Senate hearing, the nation learned of Judge Jackson’s professional record of protecting the rights and freedoms of working people. She is the daughter of public school teachers. As her father studied for law school, young Ketanji did her homework at their kitchen table.

“I was excited when Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed,” said Imogene Jones, a P.S. 268 Parent Coordinator and a Local 372 member. “She brings to SCOTUS what it never had before — the brilliant mind of a young Black woman. Her appointment gives people of color and their children someone to look up to.”

Jackson graduated from Harvard University and law school at the top of her class. She edited the Harvard Law Review. Her extraordinary legal career includes work as a federal public defender, a decade as a federal District Court judge, and Vice Chair and Commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission. She is a wife and a working mom with two young daughters.

“This is a proud historical moment that is long overdue,” said Shaun D. Francois, President of both Board of Education Employees Local 372 and DC 37. “Finally it seems that we are touching the surface of the democratic process. Judge Brown Jackson will uphold the U.S. Constitution and adhere to the law with fairness and transparency. It’s been far too long that unjust rulings arose from unfair judges; with her confirmation we are aggressively moving forward!”

“For so long, Black and brown women have been in the background, waiting for our time to come,” said Local 1549 Vice President Alma Roper. “The confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson lets us finally know we have broken a 233-year barrier and a Black woman is a lifelong SCOTUS judge! As an African American woman, I am more than proud. Her confirmation lets me know that the Dream continues.”

“The swearing in of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson this summer will be monumental,” said Magaly Rosario, Local 1655 President and DC 37 Education Committee Chair. “It gives so much hope to women of color that with education, hard work and determination, they too can make history. Who knows, they might be the next POTUS in the making.”