Black women’s groups, leaders rally around Ketanji Brown Jackson ahead of Supreme Court confirmation

"We have to fight for her," civil rights attorney Ben Crump told theGrio.

Advocacy groups and Black civil rights leaders are applauding President Joe Biden’s historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court after making his announcement official during a ceremony held at the White House on Friday. 

U.S. President Joe Biden (C) introduces Ketanji Brown Jackson (L), a circuit judge on the U.S. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The White House is now gearing up for the next steps in making this potentially history-making moment a reality. Before Brown Jackson becomes the first Black woman to sit on the high court, she must first get through a U.S. Senate confirmation process that Biden hopes will get bipartisan support from Republicans. 

President Biden hinted as much when he called out Brown Jackson’s hometown mayor of Miami, a Republican, who supported her nomination. Advocacy and civil rights groups and individuals are corralling around the presidential nominee to ensure the confirmation process is a fair and bipartisan one.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who got to know Brown Jackson when they both taught seminars at Harvard’s Trial Advocacy Program, described her to theGrio as “brilliant, humble and passionate.” He added, “We have to fight for her.”

Crump specifically named Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who already voted to confirm Brown Jackson for a prior judge appointment, and yet appeared to show resistance to her nomination. Graham had publicly supported another top candidate for the job, Judge J. Michelle Childs, a federal district judge in his home state of South Carolina. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks about the United States-Mexico border during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, July 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“If media reports are accurate, and Judge Jackson has been chosen as the Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Breyer, it means the radical Left has won President Biden over yet again. The attacks by the Left on Judge Childs from South Carolina apparently worked,” Senator Graham tweeted. 

Similarly, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – who infamously blocked former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland months before the 2016 presidential election – released a statement saying “Judge Jackson was the favored choice of far-left dark-money groups that have spent years attacking the legitimacy and structure of the Court itself.”

Early reactions from Republicans indicate they are intent on torpedoing Biden’s Supreme Court nomination, or at the very least, sullying Brown Jackson’s record. Even before Brown Jackson was announced as the nominee, some Republicans slammed the president’s intent to nominate a Black woman, essentially arguing that it was an affirmative action pick. In response to the conservative pushback, the White House will be working hard over the next few weeks to rally support.

U.S. President Joe Biden (L) looks on as Ketanji Brown Jackson, circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, delivers brief remarks as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court during an event in the Cross Hall of the White House February 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Women’s groups and leaders have made it clear they will fight to protect the historic nomination of Brown Jackson. The concern centers not only on Senators who may overlook Jackson Brown’s prior bipartisan support in previous confirmation hearings, but also the dark money that could play a role in weakening her confirmation process and her professional stature and reputation. 

“A [brilliant, exceptional, pioneering] Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court. In my lifetime. 54 years after my father was assassinated. 57 years after Bloody Sunday. 2 years after Ahmaud Arbery. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Our work continues, but this moment matters,” tweeted Dr. Bernice King, daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

“The appointment of Kentanji Brown Jackson is a watershed moment for women, for people of African descent and for democracy itself. It proves that the centuries-long disqualifier – being a Black woman – no longer exists,” said the National Council for Negro Women in a statement. 

“That is not to say that Judge Jackson is the first Black woman qualified to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. The long list of potential nominees that circulated in the press is proof that there are numerous qualified candidates.”

The group added, “The nomination says that finally there is an opportunity for all qualified persons to serve at the highest level of this nation’s judiciary…As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, ‘We will all profit from a more diverse, inclusive society, understanding, accommodating, even celebrating our differences, while pulling together for the common good.’”

The Links, a Black women’s organization of over 16,000 strong, also showed support for President Biden’s pick. The organization’s President Kimberly Jeffries Leonard said of Brown Jackson in a statement sent to theGrio, “Her record as a circuit judge and district judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, not only brings to the position unmatched legal expertise but a long history of judicial fairness. We join the chorus of African American organizations congratulating Judge Jackson as she seeks to become a final arbiter in our nation’s laws.”

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson listens to arguments as local high school students observe a reenactment of a landmark Supreme court case at U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Similarly, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., of which Brown Jackson is a member, issued a statement saying, “we remain one of the most engaged voting demographics committed to protecting and advancing democracy for the benefit of all Americans. 

“However, Black women remain vastly underrepresented throughout the judiciary, even as many decisions before the courts have disparate impact on Black women, mothers, families and communities; from matters related to voting and reproductive rights to criminal and environmental justice.”

The National Council of Black Civic Participation said, “Today, as we close out Black History Month, we thank President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, for keeping their campaign commitment by nominating Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as the first Black woman U.S. Supreme Court Justice.”

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