The Supreme Court in the United States will soon have a new judge (known as an “associate justice”).
On April 7, Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the US Senate to this important and powerful position.
The Supreme Court is the most powerful court in the United States. It makes decisions about laws, including overturning current laws, that can affect everyone in the country.
Because of that, the justices on the Supreme Court are very powerful. They are selected by the president of the United States and once they are on the Supreme Court they can remain in the job for as long as they want.
When one of the nine US Supreme Court justices decides to leave the job, the president selects someone to replace them. In this case, in February US President Joe Biden selected Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring.
Judge Jackson has a lot of experience as a judge, including as a judge for what is often called the second-most important court in the US, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. She is well qualified to be on the Supreme Court.
She has been approved for the position but it won’t become official until sometime this summer when she is “sworn in.”
When that happens, she will become the first Black woman on the US Supreme Court. In fact, she is only the eighth person in the history of the US Supreme Court (which is 233 years old) who isn’t a white male.
THINK & DISCUSS
- In 233 years, there have only been eight Supreme Court justices who weren’t white and male. That’s important to think about, because the justices on the Supreme Court make important decisions about how all Americans are treated there and what rights they have. When judges only have experience as a white male, some people question whether they can make fair decisions on behalf of people of other genders, races, abilities and backgrounds. Do you think that’s true? Why or why not?
2. US presidents appoint Supreme Court Justices. Why is that significant? (Consider the fact that some presidents are Republican and some are Democrats.)
3. Do some research to find out some decisions that have been made by the Supreme Court and explain why they are significant. Do you agree with the decisions?
4. Many people are noting that with the appointment of Judge Jackson, Black girls in the United States can now “see themselves” on the Supreme Court. What do you think that means and why do you think it is important?
5. If you were a judge, what important qualities would you need for the job? Do you think you would make a good judge? Why or why not?
6. If you do not live in the United States, do you think this article contains information that is important for you to know? Why or why not?
LINKS TO RELATED INFORMATION
This Washington Post article includes information about past decisions by US Supreme Courts: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2022/supreme-court-class-photos-diversity/
White House article about the confirmation of Judge Jackson: https://www.whitehouse.gov/kbj/#:~:text=
Judge Jackson facts and information (Politico.com): https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/23/who-is-ketanji-brown-jackson-bio-facts-background-political-views-00010970
This CBC article gives context and background information: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/us-supreme-court-jackson-explainer-1.6411482