Ketanji Brown Jackson Is Sworn into SCOTUS as Nation's First Black Female Justice

Jackson takes the place of longtime Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who officially retired at noon on Thursday after the 2021-2022 term ended

On Thursday, Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the 116th associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, making history as the first Black female justice to sit on the court.

Jackson, 51, was nominated to the court by President Joe Biden on Feb. 25 after Justice Stephen Breyer announced his plans to retire at the end of the term. She was confirmed by the Senate in a 53-47 vote on April 7.

With Jackson's appointment, Biden, 79, kept his 2020 campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court.

Jackson's notable legal career prepares her for the high honor and intense undertaking. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University, and later cum laude from Harvard Law School, Jackson was nominated by former President Barack Obama to sit on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2012. She was confirmed in 2013 and served until 2021.

In this image from video provided by the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts administers the Constitutional Oath to Ketanji Brown Jackson as her husband Patrick Jackson holds the Bible at the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 30, 2022.
Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn into the Supreme Court. Supreme Court via AP

Jackson's nomination to the highest court in the land marks an important moment in judicial history.

Jackson is not only the first Black female Supreme Court justice, but she is also the first justice to have previously served as a federal public defender. In her confirmation hearing on March 22, she stated, "Every person who has come into my courtroom, whether in a civil or criminal case, has received a fair hearing."

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Jackson's nomination also shifts the demographics of the Supreme Court. Her swearing in makes Jackson one of two Black justices, who, for the first time ever, are serving together. She joins Justice Clarence Thomas, whose rulings are predominantly conservative and who is currently the longest-serving justice on the bench, nominated by former President George H. W. Bush in 1991.

Ketanji Brown Jackson
Ketanji Brown Jackson. Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Shutterstock

Breyer's retirement comes after 28 years of representing the United States. He was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Jackson replacing him is a history-making moment, which she addressed in her speech delivered at the White House one day after her confirmation.

"It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. But we've made it. We've made it. All of us."

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