Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn into the Supreme Court on Thursday, making history as the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
Jackson, 51, who was confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan vote in April, is the court’s 116th justice and sixth woman to serve on the Supreme Court. She is replacing 83-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer whose retirement took effect at noon.
The ceremony took place in the West Conference Room at the Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon before a small gathering, including her two daughters and her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, who held the Bible one which she swore, the New York Times reports.
Jackson recited the two oaths during the brief ceremony, one administered by Breyer and the other by Chief Justice John Roberts, according to the Associated Press.
“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 in a statement issued by the court. “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.”
Jackson also singled out Breyer, calling him a “personal friend and mentor” for 20 years since he hired her as a clerk in 1999.
“I am glad today for Ketanji,” Breyer said in a statement, CBS News reports. “Her hard work, integrity, and intelligence have earned her a place on this court. 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.”
President Joe Biden nominated Jackson, a federal judge since 2013, in February, a month after Breyer announced that he was stepping down at the end of the term. The Senate confirmed Jackson’s nomination in early April, by a 53-47 vote that included support from three Republicans.
With Jackson joining Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett, this marks the first time four women will serve together on the nine-member hight court. Jackson’s historical admission to the court, however, won’t alter its 6-3 conservative majority.
Jackson is starting the new gig at a time when the country is reeling from the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion.
Minutes after Jackson’s swearing-in ceremony, anti-abortion protestors who were holding a peaceful sit-in were arrested outside the Supreme Court, according to the Times.
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