Supreme Court

Supreme Court Nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Brings Miami Roots to Bench

Born in Washington D.C., Jackson was raised in Miami and attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School

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South Florida could have a spot on the United States Supreme Court with the nomination of Miami-raised Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

President Joe Biden nominated Jackson, who currently serves as a United States circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on Friday.

Born in Washington D.C., Jackson was raised in Miami and attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School, graduating in 1988.

During a news conference Friday, Biden spoke about Jackson's time in Miami and at Palmetto High, where he said she was president of her class.

In her acceptance speech, Jackson also noted the mentorship of Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring at the end of the term this summer.

Jackson's parents, Johnny and Ellery Brown, still reside in South Florida. Both had worked as educators in the public school system.

"My mother and father, who have been married for 54 years, are at their home in Florida right now and I know that they could not be more proud," Jackson said Friday.

Jackson traces her interest in the law to when she was in preschool and her father was in the University of Miami's law school and they would sit together at the dining room table, she with coloring books and he with law books. Her father became an attorney for the county school board and her mother was a high school principal. A brother, nine years younger, served in the Army, including in Iraq, and is now a lawyer, too.

“You don’t plan this out,” said Jackson’s father, Johnny Brown, outside his Cutler Bay home Friday. “My only advice is to try to put your child in the best educational environment that you can.”

Jackson's uncle, Calvin Ross, served as Miami's police chief in the 1990s and later headed the state's Department of Juvenile Justice. He served as the police chief at Florida A&M University until he retired in 2012.

As news of Jackson's nomination spread Friday, South Florida leaders expressed their support.

On Friday, Biden delivered on his campaign promise to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.

“It is with great hometown pride that I support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States," Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a statement. "We are so proud that Judge Brown Jackson’s roots run deep here in Miami-Dade. A product of our Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Judge Brown Jackson has long been recognized by her peers, her mentors, and the legal community as a jurist of the utmost integrity."

"Congratulations to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on her historic nomination to the Supreme Court," Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tweeted. "As an alumna of Palmetto High, and the niece of a former Miami Police Chief, Calvin Ross, this is a testament to this family’s commitment to public service."

Jackson attended Harvard as an undergraduate and for law school. President Barack Obama nominated her to be a district court judge, and Biden elevated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Early in her career, she was also a law clerk for current Justice Stephen Breyer, who she would replace.

NBC News reported Jackson, 51, has a background as a public defender, worked on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and has drawn praise for her labor-friendly rulings.

Jackson is married to Patrick G. Jackson, who is the twin brother of former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan's brother-in-law. Ryan has praised Jackson in the past, testifying on her behalf during her 2012 confirmation hearing to be a district court judge.

U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger are also seen as possible nominees.

Biden had pledged during his presidential campaign that if he were given the chance to nominate someone to the court, he would make history by choosing a Black woman.

Adding a Black woman to the court would mean a series of firsts — four female justices and two Black justices serving at the same time on the nine-member court. Justice Clarence Thomas is the court’s only Black justice and just the second ever, after Thurgood Marshall.

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