Judge Ketanji Jackson says she has ‘a seat at the table’

Jackson spoke at the Library of Congress on Friday for several hours after she made her first appearance on the Supreme Court bench in a brief ceremony.

WASHINGTON – Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said Friday she “has a seat at the table now and I’m ready to work,” leaning into her historic role as the first black woman on the Supreme Court.

Jackson spoke a few hours after her first appearance on the Supreme Court bench at the Library of Congress in a brief ceremony attended by President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses.

“People from all walks of life approach me with what I can only describe as a deep sense of pride and what feels to me like renewed ownership. I can see it in her eyes. I can hear it in their voices. They’re staring at me as if to say, ‘Look at what we’ve done,'” Jackson said in a remark that lasted 10 minutes and was frequently interrupted by applause from the invite-only crowd. The video was streamed live by the Library of Congress.

“You’re essentially saying to me, ‘You go, girl,'” the 52-year-old judge said.

She said she hopes to be an inspiration to today’s kids and vowed to work hard through the inevitable ups and downs.

“I have a seat at the table now. I’ve got a seat at the table now and I’m ready to work,” Jackson said.

She used to be the center of attention at her ceremonial investiture at the Supreme Court, which was also open to invited guests only.

RELATED: Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Attends Race Trial

Chief Justice John Roberts wished Jackson, 52, a “long and prosperous career in our common calling,” the traditional greeting for a new justice.

She took her seat at the other end of the bench to Roberts’ left, right next to Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Judges are appointed according to seniority.

During the ceremony, Jackson also followed the custom of all other new justices since 1972, sitting in a chair that once belonged to John Marshall, who served as chief justice for 34 years in the early 1800s.

Marshall was also a slave owner, which perhaps gives Jackson extra poignancy by taking her place in his former possessions. She is only the third black female judge in the court’s history, joining her new colleague Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Friday’s ceremony included the reading of the commission that appointed Jackson to the court. She also repeated the oath she took when she formally joined the court in June, shortly after Justice Stephen Breyer resigned.

Breyer found himself among a courtroom full of dignitaries, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Speaker Paul Ryan, a relative of Jackson by marriage. Jackson’s parents, daughters, brother and in-laws sat in the front row.

Several wives of current and former judges also attended, including Virginia “Ginni” Thomas. Thomas, a conservative activist, was interviewed Thursday by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot and stood by the false claim that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

Jackson was confirmed in the Senate in April by a 53-47 vote, with three Republican senators joining all Democrats in support.

Biden had promised during his presidential campaign to nominate a black woman for the Supreme Court.

Biden, Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff spent a few minutes with the judges before the court called, court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said.

The President said nothing during the five-minute, strictly scripted courtroom ceremony.

RELATED: Chief Justice John Roberts defends the legitimacy of the Supreme Court

Back in the White House, Biden tweeted to praise Jackson’s “brilliant legal mind” and touted his record for judicial appointments.

“In fact, we have appointed 84 federal judges so far. No group of so many justices was appointed so quickly or was so diverse,” Biden said.

Jackson and Roberts walked down the 36 front steps of the courthouse to take photos after the ceremony. They chatted briefly in the court square, and as Roberts left, he was joined by the judge’s husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, to her.

“I’m so proud of you,” said Dr. Jackson as they embraced in front of a gathering of reporters and well-wishers.

Jackson is the first judge appointed by a Democratic president since Judge Elena Kagan joined the court in 2010. Kagan was appointed by former President Barack Obama, who also appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2009.

When Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, it looked like Obama would get a third High Court election. Garland, now attorney general, also attended Friday’s ceremony.

Former President Donald Trump eventually chose Justice Neil Gorsuch, the first of his three Supreme Court appointments, to fill Scalia’s seat.

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/politics/supreme-court-justice-ketanji-jackson-gets-formal-induction-has-a-seat-at-the-table/65-675d013c-bb90-4a39-83bc-a0a4d531b676 Judge Ketanji Jackson says she has ‘a seat at the table’

Laura Coffey

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