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Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn into U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday
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Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn into U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday

She replaces Justice Breyer who officially retired at the close of what has been a blockbuster term

  • Jackson will not only be making history as the first Black woman on the court but also as the its former federal public defender.
    Screenshot via Senate Judiciary Committee. Jackson will not only be making history as the first Black woman on the court but also as the its former federal public defender.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn into the Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon, becoming the first Black woman to join the high court’s bench. 

The oath of office for the court’s 116th member occurred shortly after Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement took effect at noon.

Chief Justice John Roberts delivered Jackson’s constitutional oath, and Breyer administered her statutory oath. 

“All the members of the court, I am pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling,” Roberts said in a ceremony that was livestreamed from Washington.

Jackson voiced appreciation to her new colleagues.

“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. “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.”

Roberts and Breyer received particular attention from Jackson. 

“Justice Breyer has been a personal friend and mentor of mine for the past two decades, in addition to being part of today’s official act,” she said. “In the wake of his exemplary service, with the support of my family and friends, and ever mindful of the duty to promote the Rule of Law, I am well-positioned to serve the American people.” 

Breyer congratulated Jackson, who was a former clerk of his, in a statement released by the court. 

“I am glad today for Ketanji. Her hard work, integrity, and intelligence have earned her a place on this Court,” Breyer said. “I am glad for my fellow Justices. They gain a colleague who is empathetic, thoughtful, and collegial. I am glad for America. Ketanji will interpret the law wisely and fairly, helping that law to work better for the American people, whom it serves. Congratulations Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.” 

Members of Jackson’s family, including her husband and two daughters, were in attendance for the ceremony. The court will hold a formal investiture in the fall. 

Jackson will not only be making history as the first Black woman on the court but also as the its former federal public defender. Jackson previously served on the D.C. Circuit and worked on the United States Sentencing Commission.

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