WASHINGTON — Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, officially made history Thursday as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.
She replaces 83-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer as the court wraps up its last rulings of the term.
With Jackson, there will be four women on the Supreme Court for the next term, a first that has been championed by advocates pushing for more diversity at the top of the nation's judiciary system.
During her swearing-in ceremony, Jackson took a constitutional oath administered by Chief Justice John Roberts and a judicial oath administered by Breyer.
Breyer, who served for 28 years on the court, gave notice of his retirement Wednesday in a letter to President Joe Biden.
"It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law," Breyer wrote.
Jackson, nominated by President Joe Biden, was confirmed 53-47 by the Senate in April.
“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God,” Jackson said in a statement issued by the court. “I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation. I extend my sincerest thanks to all of my new colleagues for their warm and gracious welcome.”
During the four-day Senate confirmation hearings, Jackson spoke of her parents’ struggles through racial segregation and said her “path was clearer” than theirs as a Black American after the enactment of civil rights laws.
Jackson attended Harvard University, served as a public defender, worked at a private law firm and was appointed as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
And she is not a completely fresh face to the Supreme Court. Jackson clerked for Breyer, who she will replace, after she graduated from Harvard in 1996.
Jackson served eight years as a federal trial court judge, and was appointed by President Biden in June 2021 to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C.
She will be the first Supreme Court justice since Thurgood Marshall to have experience as a public defender, a quality analysts say will likely color her opinions with the court.
The Supreme Court's conservative slant won't be changed as Jackson enters the high court. She is replacing a liberal judge who in his final term often found himself at the losing end of major decisions.
In the biggest case of this term, the court ruled 5-4 to strike down Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the right to abortion in the U.S.