Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson to Supreme Court

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Jason Kurtz, CNN

Updated 4:50 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022
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5:03 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to SCOTUS today. Here's what to know about her historic nomination. 

President Biden formally announced Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court today. If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to sit on the highest court in the nation.

Senate Democratic leaders hope to have a vote confirming Jackson to the court by mid-April. Jackson, 51, currently sits on DC's federal appellate court and had been considered the front-runner for the vacancy since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement.

What Biden said about the nominee: Speaking from the White House, Biden said he was fulfilling his “responsibilities under the Constitution” in selecting Jackson, noting not only her character and talents, but also the significance of this specific nomination.

“For too long, our government, our courts, haven't looked like America,” the President said. “I believe it's time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications, and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.” 

Biden said it was his "honor to introduce to the country a daughter of former public school teachers a proven consensus builder and an accomplished lawyer and distinguished jurist, on one of the nation's most prestigious courts."

What Jackson said about the nomination: Taking to the podium after Biden, Jackson said she is "humbled by the extraordinary honor" to be the President's nominee. She also took a moment to recognize that Biden's nomination comes amid deadly conflict across the globe.

"I am especially grateful for the care that you have taken in discharging your constitutional duty in service of our democracy, with all that is going on in the world today," said Jackson, a reference to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

She credited her father, who transitioned from a teaching career to life as a law student, for first introducing her to her chosen profession.

"Some of my earliest memories are of him sitting at the kitchen table reading his books," she said. "I watched him study and he became my first professional role model."

Jackson also took a moment to pay homage to Breyer, a man for whom she once clerked, and once confirmed, will ultimately replace.

"Justice Breyer, the members of the Senate will decide if I fill your seat. But please know that I could never fill your shoes," she said.

Jackson thanked her friends and family members, while also revealing the large role her faith has played in her life and her career.

"I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking God for delivering me to this point in my professional journey. My life has been blessed beyond measure and I do know that one can only come this far by faith," Jackson said when opening her remarks. "Among my many blessings, and indeed the very first, is the fact that I was born in this great country ... The United States of America is the greatest beacon of hope and democracy the world has ever known."

What comes next: Biden, who reportedly called Jackson and offered her the nomination on Thursday, noted that it's his hope that the Senate will move forward without hesitation to confirm her, adding that he had spoken with ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in advance of the nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, promised a “fair, timely and expeditious” confirmation process for Jackson and hopes she will win bipartisan support.

Read more about the confirmation process here.

CNN's Jason Kurtz, Jake Tapper, Nikki Carvajal, Ariane de Vogue, Jeff Zeleny, Betsy Klein, Ted Barrett Maegan Vazquez contributed reporting to this post.

4:06 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Schumer expects "expeditious" and "bipartisan" confirmation for historic Supreme Court pick

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised a “fair, timely and expeditious” confirmation process for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson who was nominated Friday by President Biden to the US Supreme Court and expects and hopes she will win bipartisan support as she has three times before in the Senate.

“This historic nomination of Judge Jackson is an important step towards ensuring that the Supreme Court reflects the nation as a whole. As the first Black woman Supreme Court justice in the court’s 232 year history, she's going to inspire countless future generations of young Americans,” he said. 

“Once the President sends Judge Jackson's nomination to the Senate, Senate Democrats will work to ensure a fair, timely and expeditious process — fair to the nominee, fair to the Senate and fair to the American public. Under Chairman Durbin's leadership Judge Jackson will receive a prompt hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks. After the Judiciary Committee finishes its work, I will ask the Senate to move immediately to confirm her to the Supreme Court,” he said.  

He added: “Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been confirmed by the United States Senate on a bipartisan basis three times and I expect and hope she will earn bipartisan support in the Senate." 

Schumer also said that he did not expect the recent stroke suffered by New Mexico Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan to “stand in the way of us moving quickly” to confirm Jackson. 

4:26 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Here's what comes next in the Supreme Court confirmation process — and how it could play out

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

President Joe Biden arrives with Vice President Kamala Harris and Ketanji Brown Jackson to announce his nominee for the US Supreme Court on February 25.
President Joe Biden arrives with Vice President Kamala Harris and Ketanji Brown Jackson to announce his nominee for the US Supreme Court on February 25. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

President Biden just announced Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court and the nomination will now spark a slew of events on Capitol Hill.

Here are key things to know about the process and how it could play out:

What happens next? There will be hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin. Activist groups and senators will pore over the nominee's record. Usually the candidate is a judge, but there's no requirement in the Constitution that the person be a judge or even a lawyer. That's just the recent custom.

Read more about Jackson's personal history and legal record from CNN's Ariane de Vogue.

How long does it take to confirm a Supreme Court justice? The confirmation process timeline varies. For instance, with the 2020 election bearing down and the likelihood they would lose control of the Senate, Republicans pushed through Amy Coney Barrett's nomination in lightning speed — less than a month. Before that, the last nomination to proceed to confirmation in less than two months was Ruth Bader Ginsburg's back in 1993. These things usually take months.

But Democrats may well lose control of the Senate in the November midterm elections, so they'll work to move this process along. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is looking to the Barrett timeline as a model, according to CNN's reporting.

How many votes does it take to confirm a new Supreme Court justice? It takes 51 votes in the Senate — a simple majority.

Why not 60 votes? Republicans are adamant about maintaining a 60-vote threshold for legislation. But they actually nuked the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees during the Trump administration, so confirmation takes only a simple majority.

Vice President Kamala Harris can break a 50-50 tie, which is a real possibility in these partisan times. There are 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two independents who usually vote with Democrats. It's a split chamber.

Will any Republicans vote for Biden's nominee? Overwhelming support for nominees, regardless of their political views, used to be routine. Breyer is seen as a liberal justice but he was confirmed 87-9. That kind of bipartisanship has not been seen in recent years.

None of former President Trump's nominees received more than 54 votes. Keep an eye on the more moderate Republicans, like Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Will all Democrats vote for Biden's nominee? West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has shown himself to be perfectly willing to buck the party line. Democrats will have to find a nominee he can support, but will also need to consider other potential wild cards in the Senate.

What will the top issues be? Voting rights is sure to be a key issue as Democrats make that one of their top priorities heading into the 2022 midterm elections and after a raft of decisions by the current court.

Abortion has previously been a key issue during nomination battles. The current court seems poised to either overturn or drastically scale back Roe v. Wade. The list goes on.

Read more about the process here.

4:00 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Biden on Jackson's historic nomination: It's time SCOTUS reflects "full talents and greatness" of our nation

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

President Joe Biden and Ketanji Brown Jackson shake hands during the Supreme Court nominee announcement ceremony at the White House, on Friday.
President Joe Biden and Ketanji Brown Jackson shake hands during the Supreme Court nominee announcement ceremony at the White House, on Friday. (Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

President Biden said he was fulfilling his “responsibilities under the Constitution” as he nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the first Black woman to ever serve on the United States Supreme Court. 

While he praised Jackson’s character and qualifications, Biden also focused on the historic nature of the nomination. 

“For too long, our government, our courts, haven't looked like America,” the President said. “I believe it's time that we have a court reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications, and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.” 

Notably, Biden also pointed out the bipartisan work Jackson has done and the support of both Republicans and Democrats, seemingly courting Republican votes for her confirmation. 

“Judge Jackson has already been confirmed by the United States Senate three times,” he said.

Biden talked about her work on a bipartisan commission “to reduce the unwarranted disparities in sensing to promote transparency and fairness in the criminal justice system.” He also noted Jackson was “confirmed with bipartisan Senate vote to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, considered the second most powerful court behind the Supreme Court itself.”

2:32 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson for first time publicly addresses uncle who received life sentence for drug offense

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson addressed for the first time her uncle, Thomas Brown, Jr., who received a life sentence for a drug offense. 

“You may have read that I have one uncle who got caught up in the drug trade and received a life sentence. That is true,” Jackson said in her remarks at the White House as she thanked members of her family and detailed a personal narrative. 

She continued, “But law enforcement also runs in my family. In addition to my brother, I had two uncles who served decades as police officers, one of whom became the police chief in my hometown of Miami, Florida.”

As CNN's Ariane de Vogue has reported, in 2008, when Jackson was in private practice and well before she became a judge, Jackson referred her uncle's file to WilmerHale, a law firm that handles numerous clemency petitions, according to a spokesperson for the firm.

The firm submitted the petition on Brown's behalf on Oct. 7, 2014, and former President Barack Obama commuted his sentence on Nov. 22, 2016. According to the firm, Jackson had "no further involvement in the matter" after making the referral. Jackson's chambers said she would decline comment on the issue.

“I am standing here today by the grace of God as testament to the love and support that I’ve received from my family,” Jackson said Friday. 

2:33 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson "humbled by the extraordinary honor" of being Biden's Supreme Court nominee

From CNN's Jason Kurtz

Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after she was nominated for the US Supreme Court on February 25, in Washington, DC.
Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after she was nominated for the US Supreme Court on February 25, in Washington, DC. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Ketanji Brown Jackson, speaking from the White House, said she is "humbled by the extraordinary honor" of being President Biden's nominee for the United States Supreme Court.

Jackson took a moment to also recognize that Biden's nomination comes amid deadly conflict across the globe.

"I am especially grateful for the care that you have taken in discharging your constitutional duty in service of our democracy, with all that is going on in the world today," said Jackson, a reference to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

During her speech, the 51-year-old from Washington, DC, credited her father, who transitioned from a teaching career to life as a law student, for first introducing her to the law.

"Some of my earliest memories are of him sitting at the kitchen table reading his books," she said. "I watched him study and he became my first professional role model."

And Jackson also took a moment to pay homage to outgoing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, for whom she clerked.

"Justice Breyer, the members of the Senate will decide if I fill your seat. But please know that I could never fill your shoes," she said.

2:32 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Jackson thanks faith and family as she addresses nation as Biden's Supreme Court nominee

From CNN's Jake Tapper, Ariane de Vogue, Jeff Zeleny, Betsy Klein and Maegan Vazquez

After being introduced by President Biden, Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson opened her remarks my thanking those who have been part of her journey to get to this moment.

"I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking God for delivering me to this point in my professional journey. My life has been blessed beyond measure and I do know that one can only come this far by faith," Jackson said.

"Among my many blessings, and indeed the very first, is the fact that I was born in this great country," she added. "The United States of America is the greatest beacon of hope and democracy the world has ever known. I was also blessed from my early days to have had a supportive and loving family. My mother and father, who have been married for 54 years, are at their home in Florida right now and I know that they could not be more proud."

She received and accepted Biden's offer in a call Thursday night, a source familiar with the decision told CNN, but was present for DC Circuit Court hearings Friday morning.

4:44 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Biden: I hope Senate will "move promptly"on Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation

President Biden said he hoped the Senate would "move promptly" to confirm his Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, and noted that he had met with ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I'm pleased to nominate Judge Jackson who will bring extraordinary qualifications, deep experience in intellect and rigorous judicial record to the court," Biden said. "Judge Jackson deserves to be confirmed as the next justice of the Supreme Court."

"I met with the chairman and ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Chuck Grassley and my hope is that they will move promptly and I know they'll move fairly," Biden continued.

5:01 p.m. ET, February 25, 2022

Biden formally announces Ketanji Brown Jackson as his SCOTUS nominee, calling her a "proven consensus builder"

President Joe Biden announces Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court on February 25, in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden announces Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court on February 25, in Washington, DC. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden praised Ketanji Brown Jackson as he introduced her to the nation as his nominee to the Supreme Court in remarks at the White House.

The nomination sets in motion a historic confirmation process for the first Black woman to sit on the highest court in the nation.

"Today, as we watch freedom and liberty under attack abroad, I'm here to fulfill my responsibilities under the Constitution, to preserve freedom and liberty here in the United States of America," Biden said at the White House as he introduced Jackson.

"For too long, our government, our courts haven't looked like America," Biden said. "I believe it's time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications, and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level."

"It is my honor to introduce to the country a daughter of former public school teachers a proven consensus builder and an accomplished lawyer and distinguished jurist, on one of the nation's most prestigious courts. My nominee for the United States Supreme Court is Ketanji Brown Jackson," Biden said.

Biden reiterated that the decision is one of the "most serious constitutional responsibilities a President has" and said that the process to select her was "rigorous."

"I promised the process will be rigorous and I would select a nominee worthy of the Justice [Stephen] Breyer's legacy of excellence and decency, someone extremely qualified with a brilliant legal mind, with the utmost character and integrity, which is equally important," he said.

Biden went on to praise Jackson's career as a public defender and in private law practice.

"If confirmed, she will join Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor as the only other member of the United States Supreme Court who has experience as a trial court judge, a critical qualification in my view," he added.

Read more about the nominee's career here.

CNN's Jake Tapper, Ariane de Vogue, Jeff Zeleny, Betsy Klein and Maegan Vazquez contributed reporting to this post.