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President Biden’s nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Justice Stephen Breyer is no surprise. Jackson currently sits on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. She is the first black woman and the first public defender nominated to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she is expected to influence the court’s Democratic-appointed justices further to the left. At age 51, if appointed, she would likely serve for decades. The proverbial jury is still out just how liberal she will be. Regardless of her leanings, the court will continue to be dominated by its current six-justice conservative majority. However, if confirmed, she is likely to make the court more polarized in its perspective. Her background would suggest that she is expected to be even more liberal than Justice Breyer.
Her time as a public defender and experience with the U.S. Sentencing Commission is undoubtedly likely to influence her perspective as well. The U.S. Sentencing Commission was assembled to address the inequity in sentencing guidelines. Her prior experience in these areas is unusual since most federal judges often serve as prosecutors or corporate attorneys. These and other qualities that make Jackson attractive to liberals will likely mean conservatives will challenge her nomination.
Since her liberal leanings will not change the conservative majority, it will be interesting to see just how much republicans will contest her nomination. Contested or uncontested, the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson is a historic event.
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