The nation’s first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, was sworn into office Thursday, June 30. A formal swearing-in ceremony will be held at a later date.
Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath, while Justice Stephen Breyer administered the judicial oath, according to The New York Times. The ceremony took place “in the West Conference Room at the Supreme Court, before a small gathering of Judge Jackson’s family, including her two daughters. Her husband, Dr. Patrick G. Jackson, held the Bible on which she swore.”
“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”CONSTITUTIONAL OATH
Justice Jackson replaces Justice Stephen Breyer, who retires at the end of this session. She is the sixth woman to serve on the nation’s highest court and the 116th justice. Jackson made no comment after the oaths were administered.
“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”JUDICIAL OATH
Jackson arrives at a critical moment in the high court’s history, as as 6-3 conservative majority appointed during former President Donald Trump’s term in office has overturned several landmark cases, most notably Roe v. Wade, and hints it may overturn others, including Obergfell v. Hodges, which requires states to recognize same-sex marriage. Critics say the court is rolling back the established civil rights of entire groups of people and undermining the “wall 0f separation” between church and state. Supporters say the court is extending protections to conservative religious groups’ beliefs, citing Roe and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, a case in which a football coach said he had the right to kneel and pray on the 50-yard-line after school football games, along with students who chose to join him.
Jackson’s own judicial record is not easily categorized as “liberal” or “conservative.” During Congressional hearings, she came under fire from Republican senators who attacked her work as a criminal defense attorney and her views on “critical race theory,” which she had said was one of many factors that could go into criminal sentencing decisions.
“Stand up, little girls…and be proud”
Local lawmakers responded with joy:
“What a glorious day watching Kentanji Brown Jackson become the first African American woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Rep. Rhonda Burnough (D-77). “We know that the road for her will be difficult, but God built her for this. She will bring historical knowledge and sophistication to share with the other justices each time she makes a decision. We are here to support her and continue to fight for women’s rights and freedom. Stand up little girls, young ladies and women, and be proud.”
Rep. Sandra Scott (D-76) said, “Praise God and congratulations to Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Today is a great day for all the Black girls in Georgia and across the United States. They will have the opportunity to see a Black woman on the highest court. It is my hope that Justice Brown will be able to be a voice for the voiceless and bring morals and values back to the bench. Work your magic, Justice Jackson.”
“At a pivotal moment in time, the state of this nation needs the voice of Justice Jackson to protect mortality, equity and human rights,” added Rep. Kim Schofield (D-60). “The swearing in of Justice Jackson will hopefully lift the veil of any unethical tactics we fear are being used by some of the current justices.”
“Today, we will witness a historical moment in America with the swearing-in of Ketanji Brown Jackson,” said Rep. Viola Davis (D-87). “We are blessed in our household to have four generations of Black men and women praying and thanking the Lord for breaking through barriers to deliver what was once viewed as the impossible.”