What Does The New Supreme Court Justice Mean For Americans?

Ketanji Brown Jackson has been appointed as the first-ever African American female Supreme Court justice.

Lloyd DeGrane

Ketanji Brown Jackson has been appointed as the first-ever African American female Supreme Court justice.

Following the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Bryer, Judge Kentangi Brown Jackson was appointed by President Joe Biden to fill Bryers’ seat. Jackson will be sworn into office during the Court’s summer recess, usually in late June or early July.

For the democratic party, this confirmation was a win. To understand the politics behind the supreme court, it’s important to understand the process of appointing a new supreme court judge.

According to Georgetown Law Library, the president typically consults with senators to select nominees and once the president officially nominates someone, the nomination is then sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Over the course of a month, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings and collects all necessary records on the nominee.

During the confirmation hearings, a debate is initiated between those who oppose and support the nomination. Additionally, senators question the nominee on anything related to their judgment, philosophy and qualifications.

During Judge Kentangi Brown Jackson’s hearings, various notable moments gained the support of congress. Jackson even vowed to take a “neutral” stance if confirmed. This statement was widely praised amongst the media, as it puts many worries of Americans to rest.

To the general public, the separation of powers can get confused, and during tense times, what occurs in non-congressional branches of government can appear to be more like a political game. However, it’s important to remember that whether a Supreme Court Justice is a registered Republican or Democrat, their job is to simply interpret the constitution – not push an agenda.

“The separation of power is crucial for liberty. It is what our country is founded on. And it’s important, as consistent with my judicial methodology, for each branch to operate within their own sphere. That means for me, the judges can’t make law, judges shouldn’t be policymakers, that’s a part of our constitutional design and it prevents the government from being too powerful and encroaching on individual liberty,” Jackson said when asked about governmental tyranny.

Besides, for the future of democracy, there are various other reasons as to why Supreme Court nominations are such a big deal. For starters, as stated in the constitution: “Shall hold their offices during good behavior”. Or in other words, justices are appointed for life.

Another reason why these historic nominations are significant is the political strategy behind them. Because division between the Republican and Democratic parties is growing, having a supreme court judge that shares party ideologies is crucial for each party, as it helps them forward legislative agendas. Even though judges claim no bias, ideological differences are enough to dictate how one may interpret the constitution.

During Donald J. Trump’s time in office, Trump was able to appoint three Supreme Court Justices: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. This was a big victory for the Republicans.

“The strange thing about supreme court appointments is that, in a sense, it is all kinda a game of luck. Ruth Bader Ginsburg died during Trump’s presidency, which enabled him to appoint Amy Coney Barrett. The circumstances of the Supreme Court Justices rely solely on extraneous factors,” Rollins college student Maddy Dewitt said.

For many, Judge Jackson’s qualification for this position is indisputable. But for others, this is an exciting and historic event – as Jackson is the first female African American appointed to the supreme court.

Supreme Court Justice Judge, Jackson, attended Harvard University for undergrad, as well as law school. Jackson began her career with a concentration on criminal defense law, and eventually took up a position as a District Judge, while also serving as a Vice-Chair and Commissioner on the United States Sentencing Commission.

“I’m really excited. I think it’s a good step for our future. I think Judge Kentangi Brown Jackson is moving towards equality and proper justice,” Orono High School senior Madi Fuks said.

Even openly republican individuals note Jackson’s over qualifications and a strong sense of ethics, despite the fact that strategically speaking the Republicans gain nothing from this change.

“The supreme court is gonna take up a case on Harvard and affirmative action, but she did say that she will recuse herself from it due to a conflict of interest- because she serves on a board at Harvard,” OHS senior Patrick McCabe said.

In addition to the students, many teachers at Orono High School are excited about this historic nomination.

“It’s rare to have a supreme court justice come from a background of criminal defense. Most of them have courtroom experience as prosecutors. So that is unique,” OHS Political Science teacher David Herring said.

According to the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law’s multimedia archive of the Supreme Court, otherwise referred to as OYEZ, Stephen Bryer is leaving behind a legacy of pragmatism, optimism and cooperation with both political parties. Jackson confirmed her desire to carry on Breyer’s legacy of ethics and equality in her confirmation hearing, calling Breyer her “judicial model”, with “hope to carry on his spirit.”