Former GW Law adjunct professor Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the Supreme Court on Thursday.
Three Republicans joined all 50 Senate Democrats in a 53-47 vote to approve Jackson’s nomination to the bench, making her the first Black female Supreme Court justice in American history. Jackson taught a federal sentencing seminar at GW Law during the 2011, 2012 and 2014 spring semesters, according to written responses she submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Jackson, a 51-year-old District native, joined the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year after serving on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for eight years.
President Joe Biden nominated Jackson to fill the seat of Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement from the high court in January, 27 years after he was sworn in as a justice.
“This is a great moment for Judge Jackson, but it is an even greater moment for America as we rise to a more perfect union,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said on the Senate floor Thursday immediately preceding the final vote.
Upon joining the court, Jackson will become the third sitting justice to have taught at GW Law. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas co-taught a constitutional law seminar with law professor Gregory Maggs in the fall semester of 2011, while Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett taught the same seminar in spring 2001.
Jackson said the University paid her $1,765 in 2014 for her teaching duties, according to the questionnaire.
GW Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew voiced support for Jackson last month, signing a letter to the senate’s party and Judiciary Committee leaders alongside all of the country’s 40 Black law school deans.
“As leaders in the American legal academy, we believe this confirmation would represent a triumph for this nation,” Matthew and the other deans wrote in the letter.
Jackson faced a contentious confirmation battle that ended in a near-party-line vote. With all 50 Senate Democrats backing Jackson, her confirmation was all but assured, but Jackson’s support was further boosted by three moderate Republicans – Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska – who also supported several procedural votes throughout the week to advance the nomination.
“They’re stacking the deck with far-left prosecutors, woke warriors at the Department of Justice and federal judges who believe criminals deserve lighter treatment,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday. “This project is terrible for innocent American families, and every piece of evidence suggests Democrats view Judge Jackson as its crown jewel.”
Jackson recused herself from a GW case in 2014 while she was professor at the law school, citing a potential conflict of interest. A student had alleged the University improperly expelled him when he was accused of cheating on an exam.
Jackson’s ties to another institution – Harvard University – were raised during the confirmation process. Jackson, who graduated from Harvard and serves on the school’s Board of Overseers, said during her confirmation hearing that she would recuse herself from an upcoming case challenging Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy.