Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Confirmation: An Overdue Step Towards Diversity


(Artwork/Kayla Zhang ’24)

Adya Jha, Online Features Editor

Since the creation of the United States Supreme Court over 200 years ago, the faces that preside over the institution have mainly remained the same: white, male, and often unrepresentative of the true diversity of the nation. It was only until 1967 that the first Black man, Thurgood Marshall, was appointed to America’s highest court. It took another four years before the first woman, Sandra Day O’Connor, served on the bench. Several other milestones have been met since then, but the intersection between race and gender has never been genuinely apparent. Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation in 2009 represented a significant step in diversifying the court, as she was the first woman of color to assume the position of associate justice. It is clear that the high court has much work to do; however, the April 7 confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson, who will be the first Black woman to occupy a seat on the Supreme Court, marks a monumental stride in its long and storied history. Jackson’s appointment is both a belated achievement and an opportunity to catch a glimpse into the future of the Supreme Court as a whole.

Before President Biden announced that he would nominate her to the Supreme Court to succeed long-time justice Stephen Breyer, Jackson served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Her work there since 2012 demonstrates her capability for the arduous task of being an associate justice — she has ruled on a variety of cases that directly correlate to those brought forth before the Supreme Court. Much of the criticism she has faced stems from a supposed “concern” that she may not be competent enough for the job; one must wonder, however, why similar criticism has never been directed, at least to such an extent, towards other Supreme Court nominees. Peter Ryan, co-head of the Progressive Coalition, disagrees with the disapproval directed towards Jackson in recent weeks: “[Jackson] is an extremely qualified candidate… Her commitment to defending the law and upholding the Constitution is clear through her long-standing judicial career.” 

Jackson’s expansive resume exemplifies the type of experience a Supreme Court justice must have. However, as the court leans to the right of the political spectrum and the integrity of the Constitution weakens, Jackson’s confirmation may not significantly impact the actual policies enacted. Nevertheless, having a voice like Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court is an essential step toward forming an institution that equitably represents America.