President Joe Biden has selected federal appellate judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, the White House said on Friday, setting the stage for a confirmation battle in the closely divided Senate.
Biden picked Jackson, 51, for a lifetime job on the nation’s top judicial body to succeed retiring liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, who at 83 is the court’s oldest member. Of the 115 people who have ever served on the Supreme Court, only two have been Black and both of those were men.
The timing of Biden‘s announcement had been in flux because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“President Biden sought a candidate with exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character and unwavering dedication to the rule of law,” the White House said in a statement.
“He also sought a nominee – much like Justice Breyer – who is wise, pragmatic and has a deep understanding of the Constitution as an enduring charter of liberty,” the White House said of Biden’s selection process. “And the president sought an individual who is committed to equal justice under the law and who understands the profound impact that the Supreme Court’s decisions have on the lives of the American people.”
Jackson, if confirmed by the Senate, would become the sixth woman ever to serve on the court, which currently has three female justices. She would join the liberal bloc on an increasingly assertive court that has a 6-3 conservative majority including three justices appointed by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump.