Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes first Black woman on US Supreme Court

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By Rona Ankrah on


‘I am standing on the shoulders of my own role models’, says ex-Goodwin and MoFo lawyer

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson (image via Wikimedia Commons)

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has made history as the first Black woman to serve the US Supreme Court in its 233-year existence.

Jackson, nominated for the role in February, was educated at Harvard Law School where she was the supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. During the summers, she undertook work experience as a summer associate at law firms including Kirkland & Ellis and Ropes & Gray.

She began her legal career as a law clerk, serving three federal judges between the years 1996 and 2000, before practising for US law firms including Goodwin Procter, Morrison & Foerster and Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin (now part of Baker Botts).

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In 2010, she was appointed justice for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by then-President Barack Obama, where she served until last June.

Last Friday she was joined by US President Joe Biden, who nominated her to the Supreme Court, as she spoke at a White House event celebrating her promotion to the US’ highest bench.

Addressing those gathered, Jackson said:

“I am feeling up to the task, primarily because I know that I am not alone. I am standing on the shoulders of my own role models, generations of Americans who never had anything close to this kind of opportunity, but who got up every day and went to work believing in the promise of America.”

This side of the pond, the UK Supreme Court President, Lord Reed, has previously spoken out about the lack of diversity among his colleagues, warning the issue risks becoming “shameful if it persists”.

Speaking in October 2020, Reed said he hopes to see a justice of Black, Asian or minority ethnic background, before he takes mandatory retirement in 2026.

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