Leaders from across the University of St. Thomas community are reacting to the historic confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson is the first Black woman to join the nation’s highest court in its 233 years of existence.
Jackson was confirmed earlier in April by the Senate and will be sworn in this summer following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer.
Called a “historic moment for our nation” by President Joe Biden, who nominated Jackson, leaders on the St. Thomas campus echo that sentiment.
School of Law Dean Robert Vischer believes Jackson’s confirmation is a moment of affirmation for anyone looking to pursue a career in law.
“Judge Jackson offers a reminder to law students who may have felt marginalized that there is indeed a place for them in the profession, that future portraits of towering judicial luminaries will include people who look like them too,” Vischer said. “As stewards of the rule of law, we celebrate a profession that has begun to reflect the diversity of the country we serve.”
Vischer hopes that we can all appreciate this history-in-the-making moment, no matter our personal politics.
“We will not all agree on judicial philosophy or the outcomes of thorny Supreme Court rulings now or in the future,” Vischer said. “But I hope we can all join in celebrating a judiciary in which all law students can see sources of affirmation, inspiration, and reassurance that they – that you – belong.”
Shanea Turner-Smith ’14, assistant director for Student Diversity and Inclusion Services, said watching this piece of history come to life gives students much to think about.
“This moment is both historic and inspiring but all sends a signal to the new generation of leaders to continue to be the ‘first’ in their respective fields,” Turner-Smith said. “We still have work to do and many more ‘firsts’ are needed as it relates to BIPOC representation at many more tables.”
As the judicial system continues to become a more diverse institution, Turner-Smith believes we can also work to create a more just system of law.
“Seeing is believing,” she said. “When we can see ourselves reflected in the justice system at the highest court there is hope for a fair and just system and there is hope that we can right the wrongs of history especially for those who have been on the wrong side of oppressive systems.”
Jules Porter ’18 J.D./MBA, founder of Seraph 7 Studios, a video game studio dedicated to empowering a diverse generation of gamers, was elated by Judge Jackson’s confirmation.
“Jackson faced so many known and unknown barriers and broke through them all with excellence,” Porter said. “She is a force that is blazing a pathway for so many girls and women.”
But in this moment of celebration, Porter believes there is still much more work to be done and barriers to continue breaking down.
“Now that Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has expanded our dreams and imaginations, it is time for us to follow her example and dare to be that person we have dreamed of being,” Porter said. “We need more Black women legislators, CEOs, doctors, astronauts (shoutout to Dr. Mae Jemison), and more. The sky is literally not the limit.”