Saturday, December 3, 2022

SUPREME CONFIDENCE

April 8, 2022 by  
Filed under Feature

How Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is inspiring people across America and the world.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

The confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson — who is poised to become the first African-American woman on the Supreme Court — have captivated millions who find inspiration in the story of an extraordinary thinker who is ready to make history.

Her impeccable record, peerless qualifications, and command of the facts speak volumes — and under grueling and at times disrespectful questioning, we can see how she draws perseverance from her intellect, wisdom, and the strength of her ancestors.

That strength and brilliance was on display early in Judge Jackson’s life. She was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Miami, Florida. Her parents attended segregated primary schools, then attended historically Black colleges and universities. Both began their careers as public school teachers and became leaders and administrators in the Miami-Dade Public School System. Judge Jackson traced her love of law back to sitting next to her father in their apartment as he tackled his law school homework — reading cases and preparing for Socratic questioning — while she undertook her preschool homework: coloring books.

Judge Jackson stood out as a high achiever throughout her childhood. She was a speech and debate star who was elected “mayor” of Palmetto Junior High and student body president of Miami Palmetto Senior High School. But like many Black women, she still faced naysayers. When she told her high school guidance counselor she wanted to attend Harvard, the counselor warned her not to set her “sights so high.”

That did not stop her. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University then attended Harvard Law School, where she graduated cum laude and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Judge Jackson lives with her husband, Patrick, and their two daughters, in Washington, D.C. She comes from a family where many served in law enforcement, and her own experience is tailor-made for the job ahead: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; Vice Chair, U.S. Sentencing Commission; Public defender; Supreme Court Clerk.

Despite that pedigree, many Republicans have used their questioning time to push political agendas that dog whistle to the color of the judge’s skin color — asking her to opine on “critical race theory” and other irrelevant culture war topics meant to throw her off. It hasn’t worked. She never lost control, bended, or responded in kind. She held her ground with intelligence and dignity.

Then, the sun rose with inspiring words from Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey — who spoke directly to Honorable Judge Jackson. His entire speech is phenomenal, and every Black child should be encouraged to watch and internalize it.

“I want to tell you, when I look at you, this is why I get emotional. I’m sorry, you’re a person that is so much more than your race and gender,” said Booker. “You’re a Christian and a mom. It’s hard for me not to look at you and not see my mom. I see my ancestors and yours. You have earned this spot. You are worthy. You are a great American.”

Said Las Vegas’ own Judge Karen Bennett-Haron: “When I think about the nomination, and ultimate confirmation of the Honorable Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, I am filled with a mixture of emotions. I am — like most — in awe of her intellect, her grace, and her poise. I am also grateful that she has agreed to subject herself to the arduous confirmation process. And I am proud — but not surprised — that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a Black woman whose lived experiences were divinely curated to create the epitome of excellence.

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