People For the American Way

Celebrating the Confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson

News and Analysis
Celebrating the Confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson

June 14, 2021 is a historic moment to celebrate: the day Ketanji Brown Jackson—the first of President Biden’s circuit court nominees—was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in a bipartisan 53-44 vote. This begins the repair work to the federal appellate courts that were so damaged by Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.

Given Jackson’s brilliance, her commitment to justice, and her years of experience both on and off the bench, it was no surprise that Biden nominated this inspiring Black woman to the critically important D.C. Circuit. She has dedicated most of her career to public service. She defended indigent people accused of crimes but unable to defend themselves against prosecutors. She fought for racial justice as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. And she has excelled as a district court judge, respecting the dignity of all litigants, giving fair consideration to their arguments, and adhering to the principle that courts exist to protect the rights of all, not just the powerful or the popular.

On the district court, she demonstrated a keen insight into the injustices experienced by—and indignities visited upon—people who are deaf. She made clear that she sees the humanity of non-citizens who appear in her courtroom. And she reminded the Trump administration that “Presidents are not kings.”

Ketanji Brown Jackson is exactly the kind of judge we elected President Biden to nominate, and those Republicans who voted to confirm her should be praised for putting the country ahead of partisanship. Judge Jackson will add personal and experiential diversity to the D.C. Circuit, something needed throughout the federal court system.

As Judge Jackson herself has stated, “courts have a role in making sure that everyday citizens have access to justice.” Her elevation to the D.C. Circuit will help make that happen. Today is a day to celebrate and to recommit ourselves to working for the nomination and confirmation of federal judges with a demonstrated commitment to civil rights.