US Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has been sworn in to start her lifetime appointment as the first Black woman to serve on the country’s top court.
Jackson took the oath of office to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday after the court released its final rulings for this term. The court’s next term is set to start early in October.
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“Now, on behalf of all the members of the Court, I’m pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the Court and to our common calling,” Chief Justice John Roberts said after a brief ceremony at the Supreme Court.
Politicians and activists were quick to welcome Jackson’s accession to the top court and highlight the historic nature of her appointment.
“Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. History,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote on Twitter.
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, cited recent decisions by the court in support of right-wing positions in celebrating Justice Jackson.
“As Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson takes her seat on the Supreme Court, our nation takes an historic step toward realizing our highest ideals,” Pelosi said in a social media post.
“Amid this Court’s cruel assault on Americans’ health, freedom and security, she will be a much needed force for equal justice for all.”
In a string of recent rulings, the Supreme Court has revoked the constitutional right to abortion, struck down gun regulations and curbed the executive branch’s power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
“Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson just made history by being the first Black woman on SCOTUS and the only person on this bench with public defender experience,” Congressman Jamaal Bowman wrote on Twitter.
“We are so proud of you and cannot wait to see you protect our democracy and stand up for the people.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren also cited Jackson’s previous experience as a public defender, a lawyer paid by the state to represent suspects who cannot afford legal counsel.
“I’m thrilled to see Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in today as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court! As a former public defender, she’ll bring an invaluable perspective to the bench,” Warren said in a tweet.
“I also want to thank Justice Breyer for his extraordinary public service.”
Jackson made history when she was confirmed by the US Senate in April, with Democratic politicians praising her as a qualified jurist and a trailblazer. President Joe Biden had nominated her earlier in the year after Breyer announced his intention to retire.
Jackson will join a heavily conservative court, where the liberal minority has been on the dissenting side in most major contentious cases.
Five justices on the nine-member court have been appointed by Republican presidents, including three by Donald Trump. Jackson is expected to side with two Barack Obama appointees – Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor – on the liberal minority.
In a statement after taking office, Jackson vowed to protect the rule of law.
“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God,” she said.