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Historic SCOTUS Confirmation

April 08, 2022

Penn Carey Law reacts to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States as the country’s first Black woman justice.

The Senate has confirmed the nomination of the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Jackson’s confirmation is historic and barrier-shattering as she will be the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. President of the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to attain that office, announced the 53-47 vote.

At the start of the Senate confirmation hearings, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Presidential Professor Lisa Fairfax had the honor and privilege of introducing her longtime friend and former roommate. Fairfax and Brown attended both undergrad and law school together at Harvard. Fairfax joined the Law School faculty in 2021 and is also Co-Director of the Institute for Law & Economics.

“The unmitigated joy of seeing someone I love be nominated, why I’m still smiling right now and probably getting ready to tear up,” Fairfax told CBS News. “She is fearless in a world where it’s sometimes scary to be fearless,” Fairfax told The New York Times. “I didn’t understand why it was important to study in a collective way, but she taught me that the best learners are those who hear different perspectives,” she said. “Through her eyes, I could see that there are people out there who don’t look like you, who do share your values and can be supportive.”

Several members of the Law School community, including former Harvard Law classmate Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law Ted Ruger, have also expressed their enthusiastic support for Jackson.

Dean Ted Ruger “I’ve known Ketanji Brown Jackson personally for almost 30 years, and she is exactly the kind of thoughtful and fair-minded judge our country needs today on the Supreme Court,” said Ruger. “In 1994 and 1995, we worked closely together during law school on the Harvard Law Review, where she stood out for her brilliance, her ability to work collegially with others, and the high opinion in which she was held on campus. Judge Brown Jackson will bring all of those qualities to the Supreme Court, along with her decades of experience in various aspects of our legal system including two different federal judgeships. She is an independent and ethical public servant who will bring to her new position as a Justice deep respect both for the rule of law and for the people impacted by her rulings. I support her nomination with complete enthusiasm and without reservation.”

Law students Chayla Sherrod L’23 and Simone Hunter-Hobson L’23trailblazers in their own right – spoke to 6abc and noted the confirmation’s significance regarding representation.

“To have someone who looks like me be represented in the Supreme Court Justice is life-changing,” said Sherrod, editor in chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review – the country’s oldest law journal. “Knowing that the new wave of precedent will spark from a Black woman who has had such a colorful background and experience is exciting,” she added. “Having that representation I think will invite new discussion to the Supreme Court and step away from just the conservative and liberal sides of it,” said Sherrod. “I think she’ll be very aware of how the law can be impactful for different groups of people while also protecting and preserving kind of the scared nature of the constitution.”

“Just to see Ketanji Brown Jackson today be confirmed – that serves as my why,” said Hunter-Hobson, President of the Black Law Students Association and editor in chief of the Journal of Constitutional Law. “That serves as a purpose, as my motivation to remind me that with hard work, grace and eloquence you can get really far in life.” Hunter-Hobson added, “People can feel that they can trust the Supreme Court… . I think she’ll be able to fairly assess the law and the facts as the cases come to the Supreme Court.”

Sherrod and Hunter-Hobson also joined WHYY’s Radio Times to discuss what Jackson’s historic confirmation means to them; Hunter-Hobson appeared on NBC10 and CBS Philly as well.

Read more Penn Carey Law reactions.