Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in on Thursday, the culmination of her historic ascension as the first black woman to claim a seat on the nation’s highest court.
“I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation. I extend my sincerest thanks to all of my new colleagues for their warm and gracious welcome,” Jackson said in a statement, in which she also thanked Chief Justice John Roberts and now-retired Justice Stephen Breyer.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, President Joe Biden said he was honored to see his nominee officially take her seat.
“Her historic swearing in today represents a profound step forward for our nation, for all the young, Black girls who now see themselves reflected on our highest court,” Biden said. As a candidate on the 2020 campaign trail, Biden pledged he would nominate a Black woman to be a Supreme Court justice.
Jackson was sworn in by Roberts, who administered the constitutional oath, and Breyer, the justice for whom Jackson once clerked and whose place on the bench she has taken over. Jackson, nominated last February by President Joe Biden to replace Breyer, was confirmed by the Senate on a 53-47 vote in April.
“I am glad for America,” Breyer, a 1994 appointee of President Bill Clinton, wrote in a statement congratulating Jackson. “Ketanji will interpret the law wisely and fairly, helping that law to work better for the American people.”
The newest associate justice assumes her role in the wake of a string of high-profile, controversial decisions issued by the court, including one ruling that dismantled federal abortion rights and another that struck down a New York law that limited carrying firearms outside the home.
Jackson’s placement on the court will have no impact on its ideological tilt. Justices appointed by Republican presidents still outnumber their Democrat-appointed colleagues by a 6-3 margin.
Her ceremony Thursday was small and brief, attended by a group that included her husband and daughters. A larger formal ceremony, or investiture, is expected at a later date.
Jackson’s oaths allow her to begin her judicial duties, Roberts said during the ceremony. “She’s been anxious to get to them without any further delay,” the chief justice said.