From Where We Are

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation brings ramifications for US and Supreme Court politics

She’s the first Black woman to receive the honor in over 200 years

[Ketanji Brown Jackson speaking at the Third Annual Judge James B. Parsons Legacy Dinner, February 24, 2020, University of Chicago Law School. ]


Last week saw the confirmation of Justice Kentaji Brown Jackson; the first African American woman to appear as a justice in the Courts over 200 year history. This comes after the announcement of Justice Stephen Breyer retirement after a 28 year career as an associate justice on the court, and President Biden’s promise to replace him with a Black Woman that was predicated since early in the 2020 election.


Professor Stephen Rich of USC’s Gould School of Law explains what the future of the Supreme Court could be after Jackson’s confirmation.

RICH: Well, the short answer to the other question is I don’t know that it changes. US politics too much because we didn’t see much change in the confirmation process, the confirmation process is still very contentious and overly partisan process

The court has had a conservative leaning since the three appointments made by President Trump in his term and the two made by President Bush. This appointment could show the court going back to equilibrium of conservative and liberal judges, but Professor Rich believes it will make little difference.

RICH: Now, as far as the court goes, the internal workings of the court or the. The decisions of the court may make in the near future. Personally, I think that the Jackson confirmation is probably less consequential than the prior two confirmations. But Kavanaugh confirmation and the Barrett confirmation, if you are counting votes

However, on the question of ‘Roe v. Wade’ and the country’s ongoing debate regarding abortion, Rich believes that Jackson may be able to offer a new perspective that her

RICH: Adding another woman to the court who voices concern about the the. Sex equality implications of a reversal of Roe versus Wade raises concerns about the experiences of women who are seeking abortions. The dignitary harms that may be phased in in. Continuing to increase the level of scrutiny on abortions that may have some impact even on conservative justices.


In addition to abortion, Rich praises the fact that more of America will be able to know that people from all backgrounds will now know its possible to be on the Supreme Court, in the “de-facto” sense.

RICH: And in terms of future nominees, you know, hopefully there’s a sense in which Jackson paves the door for continued diversification of the court, or at least for a continued sense that one can be free from any particular background or walk of life and still be potentially a nominee for the Supreme Court and of Justice on the Supreme Court. In other words, not to be disqualified, certainly by one’s background.


For Annenberg Media, I’m Spencer Cline