It’s Official. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Makes First Supreme Court Appearance

by Xara Aziz
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ketanji Brown Jackson – the first Black woman and the first former federal public defender to serve on the Supreme Court – made her first appearance on the bench Monday during the start of the Supreme Court’s new term.

The 52-year-old judge was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Joe Biden in February and was confirmed by the Senate two months later. She replaced Justice Stephen Breyer, who retired after serving on the bench for 28 years.

During Monday’s arguments, she initiated her first line of questioning for nearly two hours in relation to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority under the Clean Water Act, an environmental law signed into legislation to protect the nation’s waters from pollution.

Seated at the end of the bench, Jackson took notes and listened to testimony from the lawyer representing Michael and Chantell Sackett, an Idaho couple who the EPA blocked from their own land due to wetlands.

“Why is it that your conception of this does not relate in any way to Congress’ primary objective?” Jackson asked attorney Damien Schiff. “Do you dispute that the primary objective, stated in the statute … is that Congress cared about making sure that the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters was protected?”

Two other left-leaning and female justices on the bench, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, pressed Schiff on comparable arguments. Should the court rule in favor of the Sacketts, it could stifle the EPA’s power to protect the country’s wetlands.

Shortly after being sworn into the Supreme Court, Jackson acknowledged that it “has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, but we’ve made it! We’ve made it — all of us. I have dedicated my career to public service because I love this country and our Constitution and the rights that make us free.”

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