Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court on Thursday, replacing retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, who administered the judicial oath at her ceremony.
Jackson, a 51-year-old jurist who was raised in Miami, was confirmed by the Senate in April after Breyer in January announced his plans to retire. Breyer, an appointee of President Bill Clinton who has served on the bench since 1994, has been a consistent liberal voice on the court.
“I am pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling,” Chief Justice John Roberts said to applause at the swearing-in ceremony, before shaking her hand.
Her arrival is not expected to alter the ideological balance of the court, which has had a 6-3 conservative majority since Justice Amy Coney Barrett replaced the late liberal Justice Ruth Badger Ginsburg.
But it still served as a watershed moment, a long overdue shattering of a glass ceiling for Black women in America. And it represented a potent victory for President Joe Biden, who promised to put a Black woman on the Supreme Court when he ran for the White House.
Jackson joins a court that has seen its popularity plummet in recent years, according to polls, dogged by growing accusations that its decisions are tainted by politics.
The court just completed an extraordinarily contentious session in which it delivered lightning-rod decisions voiding New York’s concealed carry handgun law and overruling its half-century-old Roe v. Wade decision affirming a constitutional right to abortion.