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Ketanji Brown Jackson is the newest U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Photo: Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images.
Ketanji Brown Jackson is the newest U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Photo: Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images.

It’s official: Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court

She was sworn in on Thursday, as the successor to the now retired longtime justice Stephen Breyer.

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June 30, 2022, will go down as the day Ketanji Brown Jackson made history as the first Black woman to ever be sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

At noon today, she took both the constitutional oath and judicial oath, confirming her position as the newest justice.

Jackson replaces Chief Justice Stephen Breyer, who is now officially retired after more than 27 years of service on the nation’s highest court. 

“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor… I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation,” Justice Jackson said in a statement. 

President Joe Biden had nominated Jackson to the seat back in February, after Breyer announced his impending retirement the previous month. She was confirmed in April by a bipartisan vote of 53-47, gaining the support of all Democratic Senators, and Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney. 

Prior to her nomination, Jackon was a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the D.C. Circuit after serving eight years as a district judge for the District of Columbia. 

She also worked as an assistant public defender, as well as on the U.S. Sentencing Commission. 

Justice Jackson’s career began as a law clerk for Breyer. After getting sworn in, she took the time to highlight what the newly-retired justice means to her.

“Justice Breyer has been a personal friend and mentor of mine for the past two decades, in addition to being part of today’s official act,” she said. 

Breyer released a statement in his own right about the new justice who now succeeds him.

“I am glad today for Ketanji. Her hard work, integrity, and intelligence have earned her a place on this Court. I am glad for my fellow Justices. They gain a colleague who is empathetic, thoughtful, and collegial,” he said.

“I am glad for America. Ketanji will interpret the law wisely and fairly, helping that law to work better for the American people, whom it serves,” Breyer continued. 

The new justice takes her seat on the court during a critical moment in time. It occurs just days after the Supreme Court’s controversial decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, leaving the right for legal abortions to be determined by state.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the decision a “cruel assault on Americans' health, freedom and security.”

After her swearing in, Pelosi called Justice Jackson “a much needed force for equal justice for all.”

A recent Gallup poll found that just 25% of American adults can say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the court — a historic low. 

Justice Jackson is the 116th associate justice in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 233-year history. 

This is the first time there have been four women and two African Americans on the bench at the same time.  

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