Justice Jackson: In her own words

I was moved by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s remarks after Senate confirmation of her nomination. Here they are in their entirety, with portions I particularly liked in boldface.

Thank you so much, Mr. President.  It is the greatest honor of my life to be here with you at this moment, standing before my wonderful family, many of my close friends, your distinguished staff and guests, and the American people.

Proud American Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (Photo: NBC News)

Over these past few weeks, you’ve heard a lot from me and about me, so I hope to use this time primarily to do something that I have not had sufficient time to do, which is to extend my heartfelt thanks to the many, many people who have helped me as part of this incredible journey. 

I have quite a few people to thank.  And — and as I’m sure you can imagine, in this moment, it is hard to find the words to express the depth of my gratitude. 

First, as always, I have to give thanks to God for delivering me as promised — (applause) — and for sustaining me throughout this nomination and confirmation process.  As I said at the outset, I have come this far by faith, and I know that I am truly blessed.  To the many people who have lifted me up in prayer since the nomination, thank you.  I am very grateful. 

Thank you, as well, Mr. President, for believing in me and for honoring me with this extraordinary chance to serve our country. 

Thank you also, Madam Vice President, for your wise counsel and steady guidance. 

And thank you to the First Lady and the Second Gentleman for the care and warmth that you have shown me and my family. 

I would also like to extend my thanks to each member of the Senate.  You have fulfilled the important constitutional role of providing advice and consent under the leadership of Majority Leader Schumer.  And I’m especially grateful for the work of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, under Chairman Durbin’s skillful leadership.  (Applause.) 

As you may have heard, during the confirmation process, I had the distinct honor of having 95 personal meetings with 97 sitting senators.  (Laughter.)  And we had substantive and engaging conversations about my approach to judging and about the role of judges in the constitutional system we all love. 

As a brief aside, I will note that these are subjects about which I care deeply.  I have dedicated my career to public service because I love this country and our Constitution and the rights that make us free. 

I also understand from my many years of practice as a legal advocate, as a trial judge, and as a judge on a court of appeals that part of the genius of the constitutional framework of the United States is its design, and that the framers entrusted the judicial branch with the crucial but limited role.

I’ve also spent the better part of the past decade hearing thousands of cases and writing hundreds of opinions.  And in every instance, I have done my level best to stay in my lane and to reach a result that is consistent with my understanding of the law and with the obligation to rule independently without fear or favor.

I am humbled and honored to continue in this fashion as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, working with brilliant colleagues, supporting and defending the Constitution, and steadfastly upholding the rule of law.  (Applause.)

But today, at this podium, my mission is far more modest. I’m simply here to give my heartfelt thanks to the categories of folks who are largely responsible for me being here at this moment. 

First, of course, there is my family.  Mom and Dad, thank you not only for traveling back here on what seems like a mos- — moment’s notice, but for everything you’ve done and continue to do for me. 

My brother, Ketajh, is here as well.  You’ve always been an inspiration to me as a model of public service and bravery, and I thank you for that. 

I love you all very much.  (Applause.)

To my in-laws, Pamela and Gardner Jackson, who are here today, and my sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, William and Dana, Gardie and Natalie: Thank you for your love and support.

To my daughters, Talia and Leila: I bet you never thought you’d get to skip school by spending a day at the White House.  (Laughter.)  This is all pretty exciting for me as well.  But nothing has brought me greater joy than being your mother.  I love you very much.  (Applause.)

Patrick, thank you for everything you’ve done for me over these past 25 years of our marriage.  You’ve done everything to support and encourage me.  And it is you who’ve made this moment possible.  (Applause.) 

Your — your steadfast love gave me the courage to move in this direction.  I don’t know that I believed you when you said that I could do this, but now I do.  (Laughter and applause.)  And for that, I am forever grateful.

In the family category, let me also briefly mention the huge extended family, both Patrick’s and my own, who are watching this from all over the country and the world.  Thank you for supporting me.  I hope to be able to connect with you personally in the coming weeks and months.

Moving on briefly to the second category of people that warrant special recognition: those who provided invaluable support to me professionally in the decades prior to my nomination, and the many, many friends I have been privileged to make throughout my life and career.

Now, I know that everyone who finds professional success thinks they have the best mentors, but I truly do.  (Laughter.)  I have three inspiring jurists for whom I had the privilege of clerking: Judge Patti Saris, Judge Bruce Selya, and, of course, Justice Stephen Breyer.  Each of them is an exceptional public servant, and I could not have had better role models for thoughtfulness, integrity, honor, and principle, both by word and deed.

My clerkship with Justice Breyer, in particular, was an extraordinary gift and one for which I’ve only become more grateful with each passing year.  Justice Breyer’s commitment to an independent, impartial judiciary is unflagging.  And, for him, the rule of law is not merely a duty, it is his passion.  I am daunted by the prospect of having to follow in his footsteps.  And I would count myself lucky, indeed, to be able to do so with even the smallest amount of his wisdom, grace, and joy.

The exceptional mentorship of the judges for whom I clerked has proven especially significant for me during this past decade of my service as a federal judge.  And, of course, that service itself has been a unique opportunity.  For that, I must also thank President Obama, who put his faith in me by nominating me to my first judicial role on the federal district court.  (Applause.) 

This brings me to my colleagues and staff of the federal district court in Washington, D.C., and the D.C. Circuit: Thank you for everything.  I am deeply grateful for your wisdom and your battle-tested friendship through the years.

I also want to extend a special thanks to all of my law clerks, many of whom are here today, who have carved out time and space to accompany me on this professional journey. 

I’m especially grateful to Jennifer Gruda, who has been by my side since nearly the outset of my time on the bench — (applause) — and has promised — has promised not to leave me as we take this last big step. 

To the many other friends that I have had the great, good fortune to have made throughout the years — from my neighborhood growing up; from Miami Palmetto Senior High School, and especially the debate team; from my days at Harvard College, where I met my indefatigable and beloved roommates, Lisa Fairfax, Nina Coleman Simmons, and Antoinette Sequeira Coakley — they are truly my sisters.  (Applause.) 

To my time at Harvard Law School and the many professional experiences that I’ve been blessed to have since graduation: Thank you. 

I have too many friends to name, but please know how much you’ve meant to me and how much I have appreciated the smiles, the hugs, and the many “atta girls” that have propelled me forward to this day.

Finally, I’d like to give special thanks to the White House staff and the special assistants who provided invaluable assistance in helping me to navigate the confirmation process.

My trusted sherpa, Senator Doug Jones, was an absolute godsend.  (Applause.)  He was an absolute godsend.  He’s not only the best storyteller you’d ever want to meet, but also unbelievably popular on the Hill, which helped a lot.  (Laughter.) 

I’m also standing here today in no small part due to the hard work of the brilliant folks who interact with the legislature and other stakeholders on behalf of the White House, including Louisa Terrell, Reema Dodin, and Tona Boyd, Minyon Moore, Ben LaBolt, and Andrew Bates.  (Applause.) 

I am also particularly grateful for the awe-inspiring leadership of White House Counsel Dana Remus.  (Applause.)  Of Paige Herwig.  Where is Paige?  (Applause.)  And Ron Klain.  (Applause.) 

They led an extraordinarily talented team of White House staffers in the Herculean effort that was required to ensure that I was well prepared for the rigors of this process and in record time.  Thank you all.  (Applause.) 

Thank you, as well, to the many, many kind-hearted people from all over this country and around the world who’ve reached out to me directly in recent weeks with messages of support.

I have spent years toiling away in the relative solitude of my chambers, with just my law clerks, in isolation.  So, it’s been somewhat overwhelming, in a good way, to recently be flooded with thousands of notes and cards and photos expressing just how much this moment means to so many people.

The notes that I’ve received from children are particularly cute and especially meaningful because, more than anything, they speak directly to the hope and promise of America. 

It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.  (Applause.) 

But we’ve made it.  (Applause.)  We’ve made it, all of us.  All of us. 

And — and our children are telling me that they see now, more than ever, that, here in America, anything is possible.  (Applause.) 

They also tell me that I’m a role model, which I take both as an opportunity and as a huge responsibility.  I am feeling up to the task, primarily because I know that I am not alone.  I am standing on the shoulders of my own role models, generations of Americans who never had anything close to this kind of opportunity but who got up every day and went to work believing in the promise of America, showing others through their determination and, yes, their perseverance that good — good things can be done in this great country — from my grandparents on both sides who had only a grade-school education but instilled in my parents the importance of learning, to my parents who went to racially segregated schools growing up and were the first in their families to have the chance to go to college.

I am also ever buoyed by the leadership of generations past who helped to light the way: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall, and my personal heroine, Judge Constance Baker Motley.  (Applause.) 

They, and so many others, did the heavy lifting that made this day possible.  And for all of the talk of this historic nomination and now confirmation, I think of them as the true pathbreakers.  I am just the very lucky first inheritor of the dream of liberty and justice for all.  (Applause.) 

To be sure, I have worked hard to get to this point in my career, and I have now achieved something far beyond anything my grandparents could’ve possibly ever imagined.  But no one does this on their own.  The path was cleared for me so that I might rise to this occasion. 

And in the poetic words of Dr. Maya Angelou, I do so now, while “bringing the gifts…my ancestors gave.”  (Applause.)  I –“I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”  (Applause.) 

So as I take on this new role, I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride.

We have come a long way toward perfecting our union.

In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.  (Applause.) 

And it is an honor — the honor of a lifetime — for me to have this chance to join the Court, to promote the rule of law at the highest level, and to do my part to carry our shared project of democracy and equal justice under law forward, into the future.

Thank you, again, Mr. President and members of the Senate for this incredible honor.  (Applause.) 

26 thoughts on “Justice Jackson: In her own words”

  1. The confirmation of Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court has been a bright spot in these weeks flooded with horrific events. Thank you for sharing, Stu.

    Have a Happy Holiday.

    As I said before. I wish the best for Justice Jackson, which in turn she will give her best for these United States.

  3. I’m sorry/ but this rote predictable liberal fawning over a -isn’t it wonderful she’s just like me/box checker who can’t even define what a woman is is frankly nauseating.she does have a nice smile so I guess that’s enough.

    1. I CAN define what you are Steve but if I did it here I would be banned from the Internet because I used such a descriptive description.

    2. If you’ve been here a while, you would know I am not a liberal, and I made fun of her nonanswer to the “woman” question.
      I don’t say she is “just like you.” But her words indicate a belief in the Constitution and justice. Does she have that in common with you?
      If not, who is the problem here?

        1. afraid to respond?Dont BOGART this joint my friend.Brown is a woke progressive leftist ideologue .These things I do not like.Doubtless you were foaming at the mouth about Thomas Kavanaugh and Barrett and that would be your right.Not being able to define what a woman is or when life begins is a coy and indefensible crock.She is indeed perfect for these stupid times.

          1. Steve, you said “𝑺𝒉𝒆 𝒊𝒔 𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒆𝒅 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒔𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒖𝒑𝒊𝒅 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔.”

            I must say, judging by your reactions, you are more so.

      1. Stu, in my opinion you should not have to say if you a liberal, conservative, or whatever. People need to look at the issues and what is being said. Instead many people look at who is saying it.

      I have said many times that when you are ‘under the lights’, you better be quick on your feet. One who has been deposed many times, sat in the witness chair in court and a whole lot more – including, can reassure you that without the cameras, IT AIN’T EASY. With the cameras and now video, it’s a tad tougher to stay focused all the while the opposing team of lawyers is trying to trip you up. Actually, they’re trying to make you look like an ass.
      So, in that respect, then Judge Jackson, now Justice Jackson gets a pass.
      And I still truly hope that she will step up to serve our country well.

  4. When we begin to doubt our supreme court (lower case), we have planted the seeds of our destruction. For if the law is considered perverted, what underpinnings will protect us? Let us give this woman a chance — as I hope we will give a chance to EVERY judge put before us as ultimate deciders of what our laws mean.

    1. I would suggest, Steve, that you are tied up in 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒕𝒔 over Judge Jackson being confirmed because;
      1. She is 𝒏𝒐𝒕 White.
      2. She is 𝒏𝒐𝒕 male.
      3. She is 𝒏𝒐𝒕 conservative.
      4. She is 𝒏𝒐𝒕 Republican.
      5. She does 𝒏𝒐𝒕 support drumph.
      6. She did 𝒏𝒐𝒕 allow herself to be baited by the vile questions asked by many Republicans.

      1. mr..Bogart- cool like Humphrey you ain’t.Instead of any cohesive arguments against my legitimate political gripes against Brown you resort to sneering name calling .I don’t like Ben Simmons.Does that make me a racist?For your enlightenment-I have never voted for Trump( although at this point I wish I had)- I don’t support Putin- I like women and they like me-and I live in west philly which is a pretty strange place for a white supremacist to reside.I happen to be a very nice person-just like Justice Brown.I wish her well.I wish the country well I just don’t care for her politics.

        1. Steve, I am going to comment/question what you said. What you said will be in bold.

          “𝐈 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐁𝐞𝐧 𝐒𝐢𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐬.𝐃𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐦𝐞 𝐚 𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐬𝐭?”
          That would depend on your true reason(s) for not liking him.

          “𝐈𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐜𝐨𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐠𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐦𝐲 𝐥𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐁𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 .”
          What legimate political gripes do you have? The first thing you said was:
          “𝐈’𝐦 𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐲/ 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐟𝐚𝐰𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐚 -𝐢𝐬𝐧’𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐬𝐡𝐞’𝐬 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐦𝐞/𝐛𝐨𝐱 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐜𝐤𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐜𝐚𝐧’𝐭 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐥𝐲 𝐧𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠.𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐬𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐬𝐨 𝐈 𝐠𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡.”
          The only complaint you posted about is she would not define what a woman is.

          “𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐯𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐓𝐫𝐮𝐦𝐩( 𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐭 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝)- 𝐈 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐏𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐧”
          I did not question who you voted for nor who you support in the war but there is no way to prove you are telling the truth or not.

          “𝐈 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐦𝐞”
          What does that have to do with anything we are talking about?

          “-𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐈 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐰𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐲 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞.”
          Are you trying to say no white supremacists live in West Philadelphia? If so tell me where do they live?

          “𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐚 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧-𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐉𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐁𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐧.𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥.𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐲 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐈 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐬.”
          If you had said that in your first post I could have accepted it. I might have asked you to state specifically what you do not like about her politics but other than that you would not have heard from me.
          I cannot say if you are a nice person or not. That is subjective based on who is saying whether or not you are nice.
          If I knew you I might say while I do not like your political views you are a nice person. I have no way of determining that.

  5. Steve, was your answer directed to me? If so, what question(s) did I ask you that would require a biologist to answer?
    If your answer was directed to me I hope you were being sarcastic, or trying to be a smart-ass, (you failed), because if you really believe what you said I feel sorry for you.

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