Symbolic and Pragmatic Significance of Jackson’s Nomination as First Black Woman on Supreme Court
President Biden’s decision to nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court can be a surprising move for so many. However, for those who know Joe Biden, the decision is totally in line with his personality as he is known for taking such big political decisions in his own way. His move to pick Kamala Harris as his running mate is a fine example – not to forget that she too is a woman of color.
With this nomination, Biden also fulfilled one of his election promises that he will nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court if elected. But this doesn’t imply that he picked Jackson just because she was Black; he surely did a thorough research about Jackson, as evident from his remarks about her: “As a jurist, Jackson’s opinions are always carefully reasoned, tethered to precedent and demonstrate respect for how the law impacts everyday people.”
For those who are trying to figure out why Biden is bringing Black people, especially women, up to the top positions, his apparent motive is to pull the US away from the partisan abyss that has enveloped Supreme Court confirmations, along with everything else. He told the same to Jackson when she called on him on February 26: “I’d like you to go to the Supreme Court … You’re incredibly well qualified, and I think the court should look like the country.”
Criticism of Jackson’s nomination
Jackson’s nomination wasn’t welcomed everywhere. In fact, many strongly criticized Biden for nominating Jackson. For example, former presidential candidate Ben Carson said, “People will assume that she got the position because of her color and not because of her qualifications.” However, such critics should not forget that Jackson has impeccable credentials that make her the most suitable candidate for the position.
Not to mention her blue-chip education with Harvard undergrad and Law School degrees. In addition, she has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Constitution, the country, and all of its citizens throughout her time as a federal public defender and as a federal court of appeals judge.
Impact of Jackson’s nomination
Jackson is going to join the court that was made up entirely of white men for almost two centuries. This is the same court that once declared her race unworthy of citizenship and endorsed American segregation. She would be the current court’s second Black justice – conservative Justice Clarence Thomas is the other – and just the third in history.
This is surely a big step towards furthering diversity not only on the Supreme Court but also in the country. Diversity at the highest court would strengthen the justice system by upholding the Constitution and protecting the rights of all Americans, including the voiceless, vulnerable, and socially marginalized groups.
Additionally, this move would pave the way for promoting diversity all across the country as this gives Black girls hope that they can be anything, even a serving judge on the Supreme Court. So, they would go after their dreams with renewed energy and enthusiasm that will result in diversifying every sector in the US.
It merits mention that Jackson has always been very responsive and supportive to reforming the immigration policy. For example, in 2019 she raised her voice through a lengthy opinion in the judgment of a lawsuit in favor of immigration groups challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s expansion of the expedited removal process to the statutory limit. Jackson ruled that she had the authority to enjoin the policy.
In essence, Jackson’s nomination as the first Black woman on the court isn’t just significant for symbolic reasons but could impact the future of America. It’s a historic step towards rooting out systemic racism in the American justice system and society. Moreover, it will play a great role in strengthening freedom, equality, and liberty, and furthering diversity at home right when such values are under attack elsewhere in the world.