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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, will be the First Black Woman to Be Confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic confirmation is the latest Supreme Court confirmation after a busy and tumultuous few years for the court. In his one term as U.S. President, President Trump appointed no less than three U.S. Supreme Court justices. Just recently, the US Supreme Court’s leaked memos on Roe vs. Wade became the subject of controversy.

Following the announcement of Judge Anthony Breyer’s resignation, Jackson became one of the potential nominees for the US. Supreme Court. She was nominated by President Joe Biden on February 28, 2022 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 7, 2022. Jackson endured intense questioning by Republican members of congress during her confirmation hearings.

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation is historic. Not only will she be the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, she will also be the first public defender to serve on the court since Thurgood Marshall, who was the first Black man to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Only about 8 percent of Judges are former public defenders. A recent study examining more than a million sentences handed down by district court judges found that former public defenders were somewhat less likely to sentence people to incarceration. [https://www.vox.com/22979925/ketanji-brown-jackson-public-defender]

Let’s take a closer look at the career of Ketanji Brown Jackson to understand why her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court matters.

What Did Ketanji Brown Jackson Do Before She Was Appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Ketanji Onyika Brown was born on September 14th, 1970 in Washington D.C and grew up in Miami. Her father, Johnny Brown, was a lawyer.

The sentencing of her uncle Thomas Brown Jr. to life in prison for a nonviolent cocaine conviction while she was in college had a major impact on her. Many years’ later Jackson managed to get a law firm to take his case pro bono, and his sentence was eventually commuted by Barack Obama.

Jackson has two degrees from Harvard. She studied government at Harvard University and then went to Harvard Law School. She graduated in 1996 with a Juris Doctor cum laude.

Jackson once clerked for Justice Breyer. After law school, Jackson clerked for three judges, including Justice Stephen Breyer.

Jackson served as Vice Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission when the Commission reformed punitive drug sentencing. Between 2003 and 2005, Ketanji Brown Jackson was assistant special counsel to the United States Sentencing Commission. On July 23, 2009, Barack Obama nominated Jackson to become vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission. While Jackson was on the commission, the commission amended the Sentencing Guidelines to reduce the guideline range for crack cocaine offenses. It also enacted the “drugs minus two” amendment, which reduced the sentence for a certain amount of drugs by two, which could mean taking 6 months or more off a sentence. This amendment applied retroactively.

Ketanji Brown Jackson was an assistant federal public defender from 2005 to 2007. She will be the first public defender to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. A Washington Post review of Jackson’s cases while she was a public defender summarized that “she won uncommon victories against the government that shortened or erased lengthy sentences.”

Ketanji Brown Jackson was a Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and also a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She was appointed to the District Court by Barack Obama and took office in 2013. She was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Joe Biden and assumed office in June 2021. Her rulings and opinions won victories for Labor rights, accommodation for a deaf prisoner and fought back against the Trump administration’s attempts to make it easier for the Department of Homeland Security to deport illegal immigrants.

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s experience is unique among Supreme Court Justices. Her work in sentencing has given her a perspective on the real world consequences of the decisions that are made within the criminal justice system and their impacts on ordinary people. Our firm congratulates Ketanji Brown Jackson on her confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court and looks forward to witnessing her make history as the first Black woman to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

At Dhar Law, we are committed to the right to a fair trial and the rights of defendants within the criminal justice system. No matter how serious the crime, we will fight for you every step of the way in court. We have defended many serious cases in federal court, with a high success rate. If you have been accused of a serious crime, please don’t hesitate to contact us immediately a (617) 880-6155 .

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Heading up the firm, Vikas Dhar is widely recognized as a leader in the New England legal community. An accomplished business litigator and a “Top 40 Under 40” criminal defense attorney, he has also been honored as a New England Super Lawyer/Rising Star in the area of White-Collar Criminal Defense for each of the past six years by Boston Magazine.

I have the power and the skill to be able to save people from themselves. I can be your guide during the darkness. I can hold your hand and navigate you out of the darkness into the light.

— Vikas Dhar
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