News & Politics

This DC Judge Could Be Biden’s Supreme Court Nominee

Ketanji Brown Jackson is said to be a contender to replace Justice Stephen Breyer.

Ketanji Brown Jackson photographed in April 2021. Photograph by Tom Williams/Pool via AP, File.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire at the end of this term, according to People Who Would Know. Breyer’s retirement would open the door for President Biden to fulfill a promise to nominate a Black woman to the nation’s highest court. One name often mentioned as a possible nominee is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Here are a few things to know about her:

She’s got sterling credentials (in a town that really likes credentials)

Jackson earned her BA and her JD from Harvard, where she was a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. She clerked for Breyer and two other federal judges and worked as a federal public defender in DC. She had a stint at Morrison & Foerster before she became a judge at the US District Court for the District of Columbia. In her current gig, she holds the seat vacated by Merrick Garland.

She’s got local cred, too

Jackson was born in DC, to parents who moved here from Florida and “instilled in Jackson a sense of invincibility,” according to a 2021 Washington Post feature. She nonetheless did much of her growing up, including high school, in Miami. Still. Close enough for our purposes. Also, she’s related by marriage to long-time Washingtonian Paul Ryan, and she sentenced the Comet Ping Post gunman. Not to mention, she was named one of Washingtonian‘s Most Powerful Women in 2021

She’s deflected partisan attacks in the past

Jackson trumpeted her independence during a Senate hearing after Biden appointed her to her current job. “I know very well what my obligations are, what my duties are, not to rule with partisan advantage in mind, not to tailor or craft my decisions in order to try to gain influence or do anything of the sort,” she said.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.