Ketanji Brown Jackson appears with John Roberts after Supreme Court investiture

Written by on September 30, 2022

Grant Faint/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — Ketanji Brown Jackson descended the Supreme Court’s marble steps for the first time as justice on Friday morning, flanked by Chief Justice John Roberts and with a smile on her face, appearing to soak up her momentous, history-making installation as the 116th member of the court.

Jackson has already been sworn in and begun participating in cases, but on Friday she was feted with the investiture celebration in the historic courtroom, alongside her peer justices and a gallery full of friends, family and supporters, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Jackson sat in the same chair used by Chief Justice John Marshall in the 19th century as she was formally introduced to the court.

For the first time in the Supreme Court’s 233-year history, a majority of the justices are not white men and it’s the first time four women are serving together on the court. Jackson is the first Black woman to serve as a justice on the court.

Nearly every seat in the courtroom on Friday was filled, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and past Supreme Court justices, including Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy, also in attendance, as well as Jackson’s husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, and two daughters, Leila and Talia.

After the ceremony, Jackson and Roberts were photographed together on the marble steps of the court. Four months after the same courthouse plaza was wrapped in steel security fencing and buffeted with angry protestors, Jackson and Roberts stood together quietly looking out at the horizon and a new day for this embattled court.

Jackson was tapped by Biden to fill the seat vacated by Breyer. After nearly 24 hours of questioning from senators in, at times contentious and emotional, Senate hearings, she was confirmed by the chamber in a 53-47 vote in early April.

Speaking at the White House the day after her confirmation, Jackson highlighted the historic nature of her appointment, noting the thousands of notes she received from people after her nomination.

“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” she said. “But we’ve made it. We’ve made it, all of us. All of us.”

Jackson was officially sworn in on June 30. Her husband held two Bibles as she repeated constitutional and judicial oaths in a brief ceremony at the Supreme Court.

“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God,” Jackson said in a written statement at the time of her swearing-in. “I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation.”

The entire court will sit for new pooled official photos on Oct 7.

The court begins hearing cases in the new term on Monday, Oct. 3. This term, for the first since the coronavirus pandemic, the court will welcome the public back to its courtroom as it hears arguments.

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