Joe Biden on Friday nominated judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the supreme court, elevating a Black woman to the nation’s highest court for the first time in its 232-year history, according to multiple US media reports.
Jackson was nominated to succeed justice Stephen Breyer, 83, the most senior jurist in the court’s three-member liberal wing, who will retire at the end of the court’s current session this summer.
The nomination will not affect the ideological composition of the court, controlled by a conservative super-majority of six justices, including three appointed by Donald Trump, but it does secure a liberal seat on the bench for at least a generation.
The nomination represents a welcome bright spot for Biden, whose approval ratings have fallen to record lows as he confronts myriad crises at home and abroad. It is also his most significant opportunity yet to shape the federal judiciary, which remains overwhelmingly white and male. In his first year, Biden nominated a record number of district and appeals court judges from a range of racial, ethnic, geographical and legal backgrounds.
Jackson’s nomination fulfills a campaign promise Biden made to supporters when his prospects of winning the Democratic presidential nomination appeared dim.
Urged by congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina ahead of his state’s primary, Biden made the pledge during a debate. Days later, with Clyburn’s endorsement, Black voters lifted Biden to a resounding victory in the South Carolina primary that set in motion a string of successes that ultimately earned him the nomination and later the White House.
When Breyer announced his retirement in January, Biden vowed to nominate a jurist with “extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity”. And, he added, “that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States supreme court.”
The pledge divided Republican senators, some of whom argued that race or gender shouldn’t play a role…