African American Women Find Inspiration in Biden’s Supreme Court Pick

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Joe Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Cross Hall of the White House, Feb. 25, 2022, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris listens at right.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Joe Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Cross Hall of the White House, Feb. 25, 2022, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris listens at right. (AP)

New Orleans — Clarke Perkins has wanted to be a lawyer for more than a decade. She wasn’t shy about sharing that goal with students while teaching social studies and history in Cleveland, Ohio, before pursuing her dream.

“As a Black teacher at a predominantly Black high school, I would tell my students about the difference lawyers could make in people’s lives. I’d tell them how I wanted to be a lawyer for that reason, and how they should consider it, too,” Perkins remembered. “But when only 4.7% of lawyers in America are Black, and less than 2% are Black women, it’s sometimes hard to imagine our dreams becoming a reality.”

That dream is getting a historic boost as the U.S. Senate prepares to begin confirmation hearings for the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The hearings are scheduled to begin March 21 and, if confirmed, Jackson would become the first Black woman to serve on America’s highest court. While supporters of Jackson’s nomination laud the importance of having a government as diverse as the population it serves, critics complain that the decision to explicitly seek out a Black female for the seat excluded many qualified candidates from consideration, among other complaints.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, George Washington University law professor Johnathan Turley bemoaned selecting “the next justice first and foremost on race and sex.”

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