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Ketanji Brown Jackson Becomes First Black Woman Supreme Court Justice

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Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the first Black woman to serve on the US Supreme Court.

The ceremony at the court Thursday fulfills President Joe Biden’s campaign promise to add diversity to the nation’s highest court. It doesn’t, however, change the court’s conservative tilt, with justices appointed by Republican presidents continuing to hold six of nine seats.

Jackson, 51, takes the seat left by Justice Stephen Breyer, who resigned at noon after serving 28 years on the court. Breyer, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, announced his intention to retire in January. He had faced calls to step down while Democrats control the White House and Senate.

“It has taken 132 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Jackson said at the White House in April, after her 53-47 confirmation by the Senate. “But we’ve made it.”

The fourth new justice in the last five years, Jackson is a Harvard Law School graduate and former public defender who served as a federal trial judge for several years before Biden appointed her in 2021 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The influential appeals court is widely seen as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court.

Breyer and Chief Justice John Roberts administered the two required oaths before a small gathering of Jackson’s family in the court’s West Conference Room.