Ketanji Brown Jackson: The first black female Supreme Court Justice

Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the senate to be the first African-American woman on the supreme court. For the first time in American history, the bench is no longer a majority white male. For the first time in American history, there are four women on the bench.  

It has been a long climb to seeing women and minorities accurately represented in the United States. It was only forty years ago that the first black Barbie was created. And in the same era, Americans saw the election of Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the supreme court. Only a year ago, Kamala Harris became the first woman vice-president, and only the second minority to hold such a high role. While these motions are big, we need more. 

As former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

Brown Jackson is a role model and history-maker, for all women young and old, girls of the new generation will have several people of color (POC) in powerful positions to look up to.

Although why are we only now seeing these positions being filled with POC women? According to psychologist Dr. Nathan DeWall from the University of Kentucky, people learn by living vicariously through others. The election of Ketanji Brown Jackson lets the children of the future live through her and come to realize that they too can do anything they want to. 

While we live in a state with only a 23% population of people of color and a town with an even smaller percentage, it is still imperative we understand the impact this new justice is making, even though she may not look like you. 

Seeing powerful black women like Brown Jackson helps decline “unconscious bias”. Unconscious bias is defined as a social stereotype that stems from outside someone’s own awareness, towards a certain group of people. 

While you may be wondering what role race plays in the election of a judge, the truthful answer is nothing. A Supreme Court judge will fulfill the same duties, regardless of race. But, the experiences she has endured as a minority woman will provide useful insight and will bring immense value to her decisions. Out of 116 justices, the election of Brown Jackson is long overdue. 

At 51 years old, Brown Jackson is also going to be one of the youngest court justices, and is making history by being the first public defender to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. While there are worried voices that she will be too soft on criminals, her credentials as a two-time Harvard graduate and editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review assures many she is thoroughly educated to make the right decisions. Her age also allows her to be able to serve a long time on the bench, seeing as justices serve until death, retirement, or impeachment. 

“I know very well what my obligations are, what my duties are — not to rule with partisan advantage in mind, not to tailor or craft my decisions in order to try to gain influence or do anything on the sort,” said Brown Jackson.