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‘Welcome Justice Jackson to the Court’: Chief Justice Roberts and Retired Justice Breyer Oversee Historic Change at SCOTUS


Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in by Stephen Breyer

Retired Justice Stephen Breyer stood up from his chair as incoming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson walked into the West Conference Room of the Supreme Court Building in order to formalize her historic ascent to become the first Black woman to serve on the court.

“Welcome to the Supreme Court,” Chief Justice John Roberts said as the camera panned to him and he briefly took a few moments to recognize the newly-minted justice’s family members in attendance.

The chief justice announced the swearing-in duties would be shared between himself and the court’s departing left-of-center member.

A “formal investiture” will occur “in the fall” of this year, Roberts said, but noted that administering the two oaths will allow the new justice “to undertake her duties” post-haste in the interim.

“She’s been anxious to get to them without any further delay,” Roberts noted as Jackson nodded, a constant smile on her face, in agreement.

Roberts then administered the constitutional oath required of all new justices, indeed all federal officials, by Article IV of the U.S. Constitution, reciting the lines as Jackson repeated them back:

I, Ketanji Brown Jackson, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

With little fanfare and lots of smiles, Breyer then engaged Jackson in a similar call-and-response to administer the statutory judicial oath:

I, Ketanji Brown Jackson, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.

“I am pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling,” Roberts said following the second oath.

Applause was abundant and sustained after the two oaths. The 51-year-old is now the court’s 116th member – and the 104th associate justice overall.

Moments later, the room cleared out as the participants exited the same door they came in through, single file.

Jackson first served as a federal judge in Washington, D.C. for eight years after being nominated by then-President Barack Obama. President Joe Biden appointed Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit early in his term, where she was confirmed by a 53-44 vote.

She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the Supreme Court in a 53-47 less than three months ago.

[image via screengrab/U.S. Supreme Court]

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