5 Need-to-Know Facts About Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

BLFF Team | Mar 24, 2022


This week the country is abuzz with the historic confirmation hearings of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Judge Jackson is the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court in its 233-year-history. If confirmed, Jackson will be the first Black woman, the sixth woman, and the third Black person to serve on the Supreme Court.

According to the Washington Post, Jackson would have the widest breadth of experience on the Court if she is confirmed.

Here are a few things to know about the historic nominee’s range of experience:


Judge Jackson was raised in Miami-Dade County.

Ketanji Brown Jackson was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Miami-Dade County. Jackson’s mother was the principal of a high school in Miami and her father was an attorney for the Miami-Dade County School Board. Jackson developed a passion for law at an early age. While she was in preschool, her father was attending law school and she would color at the dining room table with her father while he studied from his law books.

In high school, Jackson was elected student body president and was a very talented debater.


She set and met a goal of attending Harvard Law School

While in high school, Jackson set a goal for herself to attend Harvard Law School. When she informed her guidance counselor about her goal, they told her that she shouldn’t set her “sights so high.” Jackson went on to graduate from Harvard College magna cum laude and cum laude from Harvard Law School. During her time in undergrad, Jackson and three other Black women became roommates and eventually all attended law school together. Jackson was also an avid student activist during her undergrad years, and she served as editor of the Harvard Law Review during her time in law school.


Judge Jackson was previously interviewed for a Supreme Court nomination.

Ketanji Brown Jackson was considered for the Supreme Court before. In 2016, President Obama interviewed Jackson for a potential nomination for the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia (he ultimately selected Merrick Garland). Prior to this, President Obama had nominated Jackson to serve as a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission in 2012 and 2009 respectively.


She worked for the retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, whose seat she may fill.

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Jackson served as retiring Justice Stephen Breyer’s law clerk from 1999 to 2000. During Jackson’s opening statement at her Supreme Court Nomination she said to Justice Breyer, “The members of the Senate will decide if I fill your seat, but please know I could never fill your shoes.”


If confirmed, Judge Jackson would be the only current Supreme Court Justice with public defender experience.

Since Thurgood Marshall retired in 1991, there have been no Supreme Court Justices with public defender experience; that could change with Jackson’s pending confirmation. From 2005 to 2007, Jackson served as a federal public defender, working with populations that would otherwise have been without legal representation. Jackson’s skill set as a public defender would provide an experience not currently present in the Supreme Court.

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