Filling a Supreme Court Seat

By Anna Kubiak
March 10, 2022

Following the announcement of Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement from his position on the Supreme Court, President Biden conducted interviews and investigated his possible replacements to ensure the qualifications of his successor and deliver on his promise to add diversity to the courts. On February 25th, President Biden announced his decision to nominate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, taking the first step in the confirmation process.

Jackson is making history as the first black women to be nominated to the position. A former public defender, she has previously served as vice chair for the U.S. Sentencing Commission where she has worked to reduce sentencing disparities and currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Preceding her nomination, President Biden named Former Senator of Alabama Doug Jones as the Sherpa, meaning he will be responsible for familiarizing Jackson to the Senate and introducing her to the members preceding the scheduling of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

The hearings hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee are divided into three different stages, the first allowing for an investigation into the nominee, the second providing time for a public hearing where witnesses can be called, and the third finishing the process with a committee decision. The Committee will present its recommendation to the entire Senate who will then debate the nomination. Finally, the Senate will vote and Jackson must receive a majority to continue the nomination process.

Once the Senate has voted, the final step of the confirmation process is for the Constitutional Oath to be administered by the Chief Justice or senior Associate Justice inside of the Justices’ Conference Room. After the oath has been given, Jackson will officially take her place as a Justice on the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court nomination process follows almost 233 years of tradition in its approach towards adding a new justice, based on Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution where the procedure is briefly laid out. The processing will take place over the next few weeks with an expected conclusion ending in early April if no major setbacks arise.

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s qualifications for the job consist of nine years of judicial experience including a clerkship with Justice Breyer whom she will potentially be replacing. According to the New York Times, President Biden has expressed his hopes that Jackson’s compassion and firsthand experience will be crucial in her ability to fulfill the job of Justice of the Supreme Court with fairness and integrity.

Her nomination and the proceeding confirmation process remain a vocal point of public interest as her historic journey marks the growth of the Supreme Court to include a greater level of inclusion that strives to reflect that of American diversity.