Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson took the oath Friday in a special session of the Supreme Court, which brought together President Joe Biden and legal luminaries from across Washington to celebrate the first inauguration of a black woman on the Supreme Court. nation.
Chief Justice John Roberts wished Jackson “a long and happy career in our shared mission.”
Biden did not speak during the brief ceremony.
The inauguration is purely ceremonial, as Jackson has been on the job since June and has already voted on emergency applications. But she has yet to sit down for oral arguments, with Friday marking her royal debut in what will now be her professional residence for decades to come.
At the start of Friday’s ceremony, Jackson sat in the well of the room, in a chair used by Chief Justice John Marshall in the early 1800s. The courtroom was steeped in tradition, and the session began when court marshal Gail Curley struck the gavel and introduced the courtroom with a traditional shout that included the familiar words “oyez, oyez, oyez.”
Eight justices, including three women, Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett, were all smiles. Retired Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement last June, sat in the audience watching as his former clerk Jackson took his place.
After court clerk Scott Harris read Jackson’s power of attorney, she was escorted to the bench, where Roberts administered the judicial oath.
The audience included Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the high court by President Barack Obama in 2016 but was blocked from serving because Republicans refused to hold a hearing. On Friday, he sat on the bar in front of a bench with Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General Elizabeth Preloga and Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Fletcher.
Also in the audience were Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff as well as Jackson’s two daughters Laila and Thalia, her parents Ellery and Johnny Brown, her brother Keitaji and former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, are married to Brown.
Several justices’ spouses sit in a special section, including conservative activist Gene Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, who appeared yesterday at the hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 uprising At the meeting, testified about her activities during the 2020 election.
Leading Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a New Jersey senator. Cory Booker and former Alabama senator. Doug Jones – Jackson’s “Sherpa” during the confirmation process – was in attendance.
After the ceremony, Jackson walked down the steps in front of the Supreme Court with Roberts and was with her husband, Dr. Patrick G Jackson.
Jackson’s inauguration comes on the eve of and two days after his new term, when the justices meet for the first time in their annual closed-door session to discuss pending petitions. The last semester ended with a set of arguments that took the court over ideology and Dobbs v. Jackson, to overturn Roe v. Jackson. Wade.
The upcoming semester will include racially dominant cases, including challenges to college affirmative action programs and disputes over the scope of a key section of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory voting practices or procedures based on race.
Jackson, the nation’s first black female judge, will address these and other issues during her first term. Five months ago, she stood on the South Lawn of the White House after being confirmed, speaking of “a gift from my ancestors.” To quote the poet Dr. Jackson added that Maya Angelou said, “I’m a slave of dreams and hopes.”
This story has been updated with more details.