She is one of three Black women included in the President’s 11 nominations that align with his commitment to diversity
President Joe Biden announced a large group of judicial nominees, including U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, to take Merrick Garland‘s former seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
NPR reported Jackson has served as a federal district court judge since 2013 and was on former President Barack Obama‘s Supreme Court nominee shortlist in 2016. The appointment could happen under the Biden administration as he has promised to nominate a Black woman to the high court if a seat becomes vacant.
Judge Jackson earned a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1996, where she served as a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. She earned an A.B., magna cum laude, in Government from Harvard-Radcliffe College in 1992.
The 50-year-old was raised in Miami by her parents, both teachers until her mother became a principal and her father a lawyer. NPR reported she clerked for three federal judges, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who the outlet named is most likely to step down.
Recently, one of the most prominent decisions of her career came when she ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about possible obstruction of justice by former President Donald Trump. Jackson rejected the argument that a president’s close advisers and former advisers are immune to being forced to testify.
“Presidents are not kings. This means that they do not have subjects bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control. Rather, in this land of liberty, it is indisputable that current and former employees of the White House work for the people of the United States,” she wrote according to NPR.
According to the Washington Post, the 11 nominees are part of the largest and earliest batch of court selections by a new administration in decades. It is also one of the most diverse.
Included in Biden’s nominations are three Black women for appeals court vacancies and the first Muslim American to serve on a District Court. They also have a variety of professional backgrounds ranging from former public defenders, former prosecutors, sitting judges, and attorneys at large law firms.
The list names: Zahid N. Quraishi, a former military prosecutor, who would be the nation’s first Muslim American on a District Court bench; Tiffany Cunningham, an intellectual-property lawyer in Chicago who would take a spot on the Federal Circuit in Washington, and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, a former longtime federal public defender who would be work the Chicago-based 7th Circuit.
“Jackson-Akiwumi and Cunningham would be the only Black judges on their respective courts, and Cunningham the first on the Federal Circuit, the Post reported.
“This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession,” Biden said in a statement provided to The Washington Post. “Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong.”
According to the news outlet, the Biden administration is following a precedent set by former President Trump to speed up the process, forgoing the American Bar Association review of candidates in advance of formal nominations. The hearings are predicted to be held in late April.
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