Ketanji Brown Jackson formally joined the Supreme Court on Thursday, making history as the first Black woman — and first Floridian — to reach the pinnacle of the country’s judiciary.
Jackson, a graduate of Miami Palmetto Senior High School in 1988, was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts and retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, the latter of whom Jackson is replacing.
Breyer announced earlier this year that he would retire at the conclusion of the current Supreme Court term, which came Thursday.
“On behalf of all the members of the court, I’m pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling,” Roberts said at the conclusion of the brief ceremony, which took place inside the Supreme Court.
Jackson’s family, including her husband, Patrick Jackson, and two daughters, attended.
Jackson, nominated by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the Senate in April, joins the Supreme Court at a tumultuous time, less than a week after it revoked the constitutional right to an abortion and ignited a national debate about women’s rights and health.
That decision came amid a broader set of recent rulings that have pleased conservatives and infuriated liberals, including one released Thursday morning that curbed the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases.
Although historic, Jackson’s nomination does not change the court’s ideological makeup, where conservatives hold a 6-3 edge.
Still, Jackson, 51, becomes just the eighth justice who is not a white male to join the nation’s highest court. During her testimony before the Senate earlier this year, she regularly cited her family’s history in South Florida and the opportunities she received there that her grandparents and parents never did.
Jackson’s parents, she testified, were forced to attend racially segregated schools in Miami.
“My reality, when I was born in 1970 and went to school in Miami, Florida, was completely different,” Jackson said during a Senate confirmation hearing in March. “I went to a diverse public junior high school, high school, elementary school. And the fact that we had come that far was to me a testament to the hope and the promise of this country, the greatness of America, that in one generation — one generation — we could go from racially segregated schools in Florida to have me sitting here as the first Floridian ever to be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Her father, Johnny Brown, served as chief attorney for the Miami-Dade School Board, while her mother, Ellery Brown, served as principal of the New World School of the Arts in Miami.
The Senate confirmed Jackson by a vote of 53-47, with three Republicans joining 48 Democrats and two independents in support of her nomination. Jackson, who was born in Washington, D.C., before growing up in suburban South Miami-Dade, is Biden’s first appointment to the Supreme Court.