Ketanji Brown Jackson makes history as she takes seat on US Supreme Court

President Joe Biden attends investiture ceremony for first black woman to sit on country's highest court

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American history was made on Friday as Ketanji Brown Jackson took her place as the first black woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.

Ms Brown Jackson took the ceremonial oath in an investiture in Washington attended by US President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff.

She replaces retiring justice Stephen Breyer.

When the court begins an eight-month term on Monday, Ms Brown Jackson joins as Mr Biden’s first confirmation in a body stacked with conservative justices — at 6 to 3 — appointed by former president Donald Trump.

That majority wielded its bipartisan power when it overturned the landmark 1973 decision Roe v Wade and has strengthened, not curtailed, gun rights.

The Senate in April confirmed Ms Brown Jackson, who was serving as a federal appellate judge, despite hostility among Republicans.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell called Jackson the choice of the "radical left”.

"I decide cases from a neutral posture," Ms Brown Jackson told the Senate judiciary committee during her March confirmation hearing.

"I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favour, consistent with my judicial oath."

Her confirmation fulfils a campaign promise made by Mr Biden to appoint a black woman to the US Supreme Court.

While the liberal justices may play merely the role of dissenters in some major cases, Ms Brown Jackson could help shape some decisions, particularly in her areas of expertise.

Her perspective on criminal justice issues is informed by past service both as a trial judge and as a public defender — a job none of the other sitting justices ever performed.

The ceremony was also attended by US Attorney General Merrick Garland, several lawmakers and retired justices Mr Breyer and Anthony Kennedy.

Also present was Chief Justice John Roberts, who had privately lobbied fellow conservatives not to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.

Updated: September 30, 2022, 6:04 PM
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