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Amid calls for equity, a new SCOTUS justice is nominated

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

By Nichole Mui Apr. 7, 2022

Beomhee Kim Art

Out of the 114 justices to ever serve on the Supreme Court, only six have been non-white or female, and none have had experience in criminal conviction or defense. After Justice Stephen Breyer vacated his seat in January, President Joe Biden nominated Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court, citing her identity as a Black woman and her expertise in criminal law as a former public attorney. However, Jackson’s nomination faces partisan disagreements in the Senate, where representatives debate the possibility of her holding a biased judicial philosophy.

Jackson’s childhood was shaped by constitutional law: As the daughter of an attorney, she grew up witnessing court rulings involving the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Jackson went on to represent several defendants accused of drug crimes and lowered penalties for cocaine use as a Vice Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Although Jackson is expected to shift the direction of Court precedents in cases where race and gender are significant, she claimed in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that her identity is not a factor in her rulings—rather, the determinant in her final evaluations is always constitutional law.

“While Jackson’s confirmation will not change the Supreme Court’s current conservative majority, her young age will ensure a long-term liberal voice in the Court, potentially helping diversify the Court’s rulings over several decades,” Senior Julian Moghaddasi said.

Jackson’s judicial record consists of many cases concerning former president Donald Trump. In 2019, she ruled that White House Counsel Don McGahn could not investigate Russian interference with the 2016 elections without testifying before Congress due to separation of powers within the government. Earlier that year, she opposed a proposal from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expand their forced removal of undocumented immigrants, citing a violation of procedural law.

Although these cases show that Jackson is an experienced judge, her past rulings do not come without controversy: 10 verdicts, including the one regarding the DHS, have been overruled by federal Circuit Courts. Taking this into account, Republican Senators express skepticism over Jackson’s political objectivity, concerned that she might turn the Supreme Court radically left—which could lead progressive groups to undermine the court’s legitimacy.

Each representative’s opinion comes from their understanding of how Jackson’s political ideology might predict her court rulings. For example, Brookings Institute finds that former Justice Anthony Kennedy’s ruling in favor of legalizing gay marriage overruled many state laws, and some are worried that liberal decisions by Jackson will restructure Court powers in a similar way.

On the contrary, The National Review and the Congressional Research Service find that political ideology is a difficult metric for predicting Jackson’s judicial philosophy—her prior verdicts mostly followed court precedent and accorded to the Constitution’s original meaning rather than her own interpretations.

While uncertainty still surrounds how Jackson will impact future Supreme Court rulings, her confirmation may help boost the confidence Black and female groups have in their court systems according to University of Colorado civil rights law professor Suzette Malveuax.

“By nominating Jackson, Biden emphasizes the representation of marginalized groups in a predominately white judicial space. Jackson’s unique identity as a Black woman may fuel a progression towards race and gender equality in all aspects of American life,” Sophomore Abhinav Arunkumar said.


About the Contributors

Nicole Mui

Staff Writer

Nicole Mui is a sophomore at Leland High School and writer for The Charger Account. During their free time, she enjoys reading, painting, and debating.

Beomhee Kim

Art Director

Beomhee Kim is a senior at Leland High School and the Art Director for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys drawing, listening to music, and spending time with her friends.

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