WASHINGTON (AP) — Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in to the Supreme Court on Thursday, shattering a glass ceiling as the first black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
Jackson, 51, is the 116th judge on the court and she replaced the judge she once worked for. Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement took effect at noon.
Moments later, joined by her family, Jackson recited the two oaths required of Supreme Court justices, one administered by Breyer and the other by Chief Justice John Roberts.
“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and to administer justice without fear or favor, so help me God,” Jackson said in a statement released by the court. “I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation. I extend my most sincere thanks to all my new colleagues for their warm and courteous welcome.
Roberts welcomed Jackson “to court and to our common calling”. The ceremony was streamed live on the Court’s website.
Jackson, a federal judge since 2013, joins three other women, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett — the first time four women will sit together on the nine-member court.
Biden nominated Jackson in February, a month after Breyer, 83, announced he would retire at the end of the court term, assuming his successor was confirmed. Breyer’s earlier-than-usual announcement and condition he attached was an acknowledgment of the Democrats’ tenuous grip on the Senate at a time of hyper-partisanship, particularly around federal judgeships.
The Senate confirmed Jackson’s nomination in early April, by a largely partisan vote of 53 to 47, which included support from three Republicans.
Jackson had been in something of a limbo ever since, remaining a federal appeals court judge in Washington, D.C., but not hearing any cases. Biden elevated her to this court from the position of district judge to which she was appointed by President Barack Obama.
Jackson will be able to start work immediately, but the court has just completed most of its work through the fall, aside from the occasional emergency calls. This will give him time to settle in and familiarize himself with the roughly two dozen cases the court has already agreed to hear from October, as well as the hundreds of appeals that will pile up over the course of the summer.
The court issued final opinions earlier Thursday after a momentous and vindictive mandate that included overturning the abortion rights guarantee of Roe v. Wade. One of Thursday’s rulings limited how the Environmental Protection Agency can use the country’s main air pollution law to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, a blow to the fight against climate change.