Ketanji Brown Jackson is a federal judge serving on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She is President Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court seat that will be vacated by the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer. If confirmed, Jackson would be the first Black woman to serve on the court.
In her early career, Jackson served as a law clerk to Judge Patti B. Saris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, to Judge Bruce M. Selya of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and then to Justice Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court. From 2003 to 2005 Jackson served as an assistant special counsel to the United States Sentencing Commission. From 2005 to 2007 she served as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C. Jackson moved between private legal practice during her early career.
In 2009, President Obama nominated Jackson to vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission. During her time on the Commission, Jackson focused on amending sentencing guidelines and enacted the “drugs minus two” amendment. In 2012, President Obama nominated Jackson to serve as a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. She served on the court until 2021. During her time on the District Court, Jackson garnered attention for reversing many Trump administration executive actions, specifically in regard to administration law and federal employee collective bargaining rights. Additionally, in 2019, Jackson issued a nationwide preliminary injunction to block the Trump administration from expanding its power to deport migrants who illegally entered the United States by using a fast-track process.
In 2021, President Biden nominated Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC circuit. She was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 53-44 and received her commission on June 17, 2021. Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME), Lindsay Graham (SC), and Lisa Murkowski (AK) supported her confirmation. During her time on the court, Jackson continued her work on the bargaining power of federal-sector labor unions. Notably, she was part of a three-judge panel that unanimously rejected President Trump’s bid to block the release of White House records to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Miami, FL. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1992 and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1996.
- September 11, 2015 – Pierce v. District of Columbia: Jackson ruled that the U.S. Department of Corrections violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not assessing the needs of a deaf inmate.
- August 15, 2018 – AFGE, AFL-CIO v. Trump: Jackson invalidated three executive orders that would have limited the time federal employee labor union officials could spend with union members, the issues that unions could bargain over, and the rights of workers to appeal disciplinary actions.
- September 29, 2019 – Make The Road New York v. McAleenan: Jackson issued a preliminary injunction blocking an executive agency rule that would have expanded a “fast-track” deportation process without immigration court hearings for undocumented immigrants.