This week the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the next Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 53-47 vote fell largely along partisan lines, with three Republicans crossing over to support her confirmation.
When Judge Jackson begins her term, she makes history as the first Black woman to serve on the Court. Her confirmation also makes the Court the most diverse in its 233-year history, with four women and three Justices of color on the bench. She will also be the first Justice to have served as a public defender.
It is unlikely Judge Jackson’s presence will change the Court’s 6-3 ideological divide. Judge Jackson’s philosophy appears to be in line with Justice Stephen Breyer who she is replacing and to whom she served as a law clerk.
When Judge Jackson takes her seat on the Court, she will hear several high-profile civil rights cases. Among them are Students For Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina which asks the Court to overrule the landmark 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger. Grutter-held colleges and universities can consider race as part of their efforts to create a diverse student body.
The Court will also hear arguments on the tension between free speech and non-discriminatory public accommodation laws in 303 Creative v. Elenis. In this case, a wedding web designer refused to create a wedding website for same-sex couples claiming she was opposed to same-sex marriage because it was against her religious beliefs.
Finally, the Court will hear arguments in Merrill v. Milligan on whether Alabama’s congressional redistricting plan which includes only one majority-Black district, runs afoul of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Judge Jackson currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School.
It is expected that Justice Breyer will stay on the bench until he retires at the end of the current term this summer, and Judge Jackson will begin her term this fall.