US President Joe Biden will announce his intent to nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court, according to the White House.
Jackson, who currently sits on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, will be the first African American woman serving on the country’s highest court if the Senate confirms the nomination.
The nomination came nearly a month after Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a longtime liberal, said that he is about to retire this summer after nearly three decades on the bench. Jackson clerked for Breyer in the 1999-2000 term, Xinhua news agency reported.
The White House on Friday said in a statement that Biden had “conducted a rigorous process” to identify Breyer’s replacement and “sought an individual who is committed to equal justice under the law and who understands the profound impact that the Supreme Court’s decisions have on the lives of the American people.”
“Judge Jackson is an exceptionally qualified nominee” as well as a historic nominee, the statement said.
“The Senate should move forward with a fair and timely hearing and confirmation.”
The US President will deliver remarks announcing the nomination at the White House on Friday afternoon.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden pledged he would tap an African American woman to be his nominee to the Supreme Court if he got the chance.
The Democrat reaffirmed the commitment after Breyer’s announcement of retirement but has drawn criticism from some Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have argued that the selection should be based on merit rather than race or gender.
Jackson, 51, has been viewed as a potential candidate for the Supreme Court after she was confirmed by the Senate in 2021 with bipartisan support to the D.C. Circuit, often referred to as the second most powerful court in the US.
Born in D.C. but raised in Miami, Jackson received her law degree from Harvard University and graduated cum laude in 1996. Earlier in her legal career, she worked as an assistant federal public defender in D.C. and served as vice chair of the US Sentencing Commission for four years.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement on Friday that he looks forward to meeting with Jackson in person and “studying her record, legal views, and judicial philosophy.”
McConnell also noted he voted against confirming Jackson to the D.C. Circuit in 2021 and alleged she “was the favoured choice of far-left dark-money groups that have spent years attacking the legitimacy and structure of the Court itself.”
“With that said, I look forward to carefully reviewing Judge Jackson’s nomination during the vigorous and thorough Senate process that the American people deserve,” he added.
It requires a simple majority of votes in the 100-seat Senate to approve Biden’s nomination of Jackson to be the next Supreme Court Justice.
The Senate is evenly split between the two parties. Democrats can approve the nomination without any Republican support, with Vice-President Kamala Harris casting a tie-breaking vote.
The Supreme Court is the final appellate court of the US judicial system, with the power to review and overturn the decisions of lower courts, and is also generally the final interpreter of federal law, including the country’s constitution.
The high court consists of nine justices, who have life tenure and can serve until they die, resign, retire, or are impeached and removed from office.
Currently, conservatives have a 6-3 majority over liberals on the bench, and Jackson’s ascension won’t change the court’s ideological balance.