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  • Deshonda P. Charles, Esq.


Updated: Dec 12, 2022

The Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court makes her the first African American woman nominated to serve on the Unites States Supreme Court. Her presence on the Court would prove to be a step in the direction of having the highest court in the land reflect the America over which its laws govern. It would serve as a source of pride in the heights to which a black woman lawyer could ascend, and it would demonstrate that upholding equal justice under the law is not a privilege reserved for men and white women.

We all know that the decisions of the Supreme Court have real world consequences. The jurists who contemplate the protection of our freedoms and violations of our inalienable American rights are people. Actually, very smart people who are trained in interpreting the law, but people nonetheless. Their ability to interpret the law is seen through the lens of the lived experience of each jurist and those collective experiences should be as diverse as the American population. Not to mention the appointment to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment. Justices basically “hold office as long as they choose and can only be removed from office by impeachment”. So, who gets appointed matters. Their participation in legal decisions effect generations. As I pointed out above, decisions of the Supreme Court have real world consequences. Notable cases include Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, and Obergefell v. Hodges. These cases established the law of the land ruling on segregation, desegregation, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage. The opinions of the individual justices and therefore the Court directly impact our lives and how we share space as Americans under the law. Decisions of the Court live on far beyond the lives of the jurists and impact the protection of or violation of the American freedoms and values we cherish in our democracy that are protected under the Constitution. Consider This Quick History Since it was established in 1789 there have been 115 justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and only 3 of them have been women. 3! And if that isn’t crazy enough, the first female justice wasn’t confirmed until 1981. There have been even fewer African American Supreme Court justices, just 2. 2! Yes, of the 115 justices to ever have served on the Supreme Court, making American laws 110 have been white men.

That homogeneous group sat in place for 178 years, until 1967 when the first black supreme court justice was appointed. That man, Thurgood Marshall (pictured), served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1967 – 1991. The second, Clarence Thomas, was appointed to succeed Thurgood Marshall and has been serving since 1991.

Breaking Barriers It has always been time to have diversity on the highest court in the land, but now the opportunity is upon us. The confirmation of the Hon. Ketanji Brown Jackson is necessary. It would put this country further down the proverbial road of achieving diversity of thought and perspective aimed at arriving at well-reasoned legal decisions. It would also provide a role model for young black girls interested in the field of law at the highest level and would surely chip away at the stereotype that a successful Supreme Court Justice of the Unites States couldn’t possibly be a black woman. Simply put the makeup of the Supreme Court Justices should reflect the people it serves. The confirmation of the Hon. Ketanji Brown Jackson is a barrier breaking necessity! And would be one more step in achieving the goal of a truly diverse judiciary which would be a good thing for us ALL.

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