On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The confirmation makes Jackson only the ninth Black woman and ninth public defender ever to serve as a federal appeals court judge, a position considered second only to the U.S. Supreme Court in terms of power over constitutional administration of the law. This court has jurisdiction over Congress and many federal government agencies.
53 to 44 votes squarely placed Jackson in the position, with only three Republicans joining Democrats in support of the confirmation. Jackson was commissioned as a United States District Judge in March of 2013 (by unanimous vote) and served as a Vice-Chair and Commissioner on the United States Sentencing Commission until December of 2014.
Prior to her for years on the Sentencing Committee, Jackson worked for three years as Of Counsel for Morrison and Foerster LLP, focusing her practice on criminal and civil appellate litigation in both state and federal courts. She also served on cases in the Supreme Court.
Judge Jackson’s extensive experience has led to her current position as a member of the Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Services, as well as the Board of Overseers of Harvard University and the Council of the American Law Institute.
In the 230-year history of the United States courts, there have been a total of 836 federal appeals judges, making Jackson’s position as only the ninth a significant confirmation. Jackson has also been floated as President Biden’s potential pick for Supreme Court if a vacancy opens during his term.
Judge Jackson brings much-needed diversity on the federal bench. Demand Justice stated of Jackson’s nomination back in March, “With this many nominees for lifetime judgeships, President Biden is outpacing both Trump and Obama by a healthy margin, and it is a welcome shift to see this level of prioritization of judges. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a rising star whose time on the Court of Appeals may prove a stepping stone. She and the other public defenders and civil rights lawyers in this group are exactly the kind of judges we need to rebalance our courts.”