Feb 26, 2022

Joe Biden Nominates Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for Supreme Court Speech Transcript

Joe Biden Nominates Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for Supreme Court Speech Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsJoe Biden TranscriptsJoe Biden Nominates Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for Supreme Court Speech Transcript

President Joe Biden announced his nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court on February 25. Read the transcript here.

President Biden: (08:26)
Good afternoon.

President Biden: (08:29)
Today, as we watch freedom and liberty under attack abroad, I’m here to fulfill my responsibilities under the constitution to preserve freedom and liberty here in the United States of America. And it’s my honor to introduce to the country, a daughter of former public school teachers, a proven consensus builder, an accomplished lawyer, a distinguished jurist on one of the nation’s most prestigious courts. My nominee for the United States Supreme court is judge Ketanji Jackson.

President Biden: (09:07)
Four weeks ago when a member of the court, a friend of mine, we used to work together in the Senate, Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement, I said then choosing someone to serve on the United States Supreme Court is one of the most serious constitutional responsibility a president has, and I mean it. I promised the process would be rigorous, that it would select the nominee worthy of justice. Breyer’s legacy of excellence and decency; someone extremely qualified with a brilliant legal mind with the utmost character and integrity, which equally is important. And though I would bring to this decision my perspective as a lawyer, former constitutional law professor, chairman of the Judiciary Committee for many, many years, and I’m almost was reluctant to say it, someone who’s been presided over more Supreme court nominations than almost anyone living today, which makes me 28 years old. I started doing it when I was 32. And who was devoted much of my career to thinking about the constitution and the role in the Supreme court.

President Biden: (10:15)
With that perspective, I carefully studied the record of candidates. I’ve invited senators of both political parties to offer their ideas and points of view, and I’ve met with a number of them. As a result, because I truly respect not only the consent, I know they give consent, but the constitution says advice and concent, and I sought the advice of Democrats and Republicans. I’ve consulted with leading legal scholars and lawyers. And I’ve been fortunate to have the advice of the vice president Harris, and I mean this sincerely, an exceptional lawyer, a former attorney general in California, and a former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

President Biden: (10:57)
And during this process, you look for someone who, like justice Breyer, has a pragmatic understanding that the law must work for the American people; someone who has historical perspective to understand that the constitution is a resilient charter of Liberty; someone with the wisdom to appreciate that the constitution protects certain alienable rights, rights that fall within the most fundamental personal freedoms that our society recognizes. In the end, someone with extraordinary character who’ll bring to the Supreme Court an independent mind, uncompromising integrity, and with a strong moral compass and the courage to up for what she thinks is right. For too long, our government, our courts haven’t looked like America. And I believe it’s time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications, and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level. I’ve admired these traits of pragmatism, historical perspective, wisdom, character in the jurists nominated by Republican and Presidents as well as Democratic Presidents. And today, I’m pleased to introduce to the American people, a candidate who continues in this great tradition.

President Biden: (12:22)
Judge Jackson grew up in Miami, Florida. And by the way, the mayor of Miami, a Republican, endorsed you. I thought that was interesting. Her parents grew up with segregation, but it never gave up hope that their children would enjoy the true promise of America. Her parents graduated from historic black colleges and became public school teachers, her mom, a principal, her dad, a teacher who later went back to school and became a lawyer representing that very school district, that school board. Judge Jackson describes finding her love for the law from an apartment complex at the University of Miami, where her dad was attending law school. She’d draw in her coloring book at the dining room table next to her dad’s law books. She grew up to be a star student, elected mayor of her junior high school and president of her high school class, where she was a standout. She was a standout on the speech and debate team. And it was after a debate tournament that took place at Harvard when she was in high school that she believed she could one day be a student there. There were those who told her, she shouldn’t set her sight too high, but she refused to accept limits others set for her.

President Biden: (13:36)
She did go to Harvard undergraduate school, where she graduated Magnum Cum Laude. She went to attend Harvard law school, where she was a top student and editor of the prestigious Law Review. Then, she applied for a highly competitive and covered the clerkship on the United States Supreme Court, and she was selected. The justice who thought she was worthy of this high honor was a young lawyer, was none other than Justice Stephen Breyer whose seat I’m nominating her to fill. Not only did she learn about being a judge from Justice Breyer himself, she saw the great rigor through which justice Breyer approached his work. She learned from his willingness to work with colleagues with different viewpoints, critical qualities, in my view, for any Supreme Court justice. Now, years later, she steps up to fill Justice Breyer’s place in the court with a uniquely accomplished and wide ranging background.

President Biden: (14:35)
She served both in public service as a federal public defender, and a private law practice as an accomplished lawyer with a prestigious law firm. If confirmed, she will join Justice Sotomayor as the only other member of the United States Supreme Court, who has experienced as a trial court judge, a critical qualification in my view, and, once again, following the footsteps of her mentor justice Breyer, she’s become the only member of the court who previously served as a member of the United States Sentencing Commission.

President Biden: (15:11)
And she brings additional perspective to the court as well. She comes from a family of law enforcement, with her brother and uncles having served as police officers. That’s one reason I expect by the fraternal order police, the national organization today, said, and I quote, “there’s little doubt she’s has the temperament, the intellect and legal experience and family background have earned this appointment.” And they went on to say there are confident she will quote, “approach her future cases with an open mind and treat issues related to law enforcement fairly and justly.”

President Biden: (15:47)
Incredibly, judge Jackson has already been confirmed by the United States Senate it three times. First to serve on the US Sentencing Commission, a bipartisan independent commission I helped design to reduce the unwarranted disparities in sentencing and promote transparency and fairness and the criminal justice system. On the commission, Judge Jackson was known for working with the Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on critical issues.

President Biden: (16:16)
Second, she was confirmed by the United States Senate with bipartisan support on the federal district court to administer justice with the special rigors and fairness that come with presiding over trials.

President Biden: (16:29)
And third, she was confirmed with bipartisan Senate vote to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, considered the second most powerful court behind the Supreme Court itself, and the court she once argued cases before as a distinguished advocate. And when judge Jackson was nominated to the circuit court, one of its distinguished retired members, Judge Thomas Griffith, a former judge counsel of Brigham Young University and a George Bush appointed to the court said he backed her enthusiastically, hailing her exemplary legal career in both public and private practice. And it went on to say her careful approach as a trial court judge. Judge Jackson’s service on the DC circuit Court of Appeals is another superb qualification for service on the Supreme Court. Three of the current Supreme Court justices also serve as the DC circuit judges, where Judge Jackson now serves.

President Biden: (17:33)
Her opinions are always carefully reasoned, tethered to precedent and demonstrate respect for how the law impacts everyday people. It doesn’t mean she puts her thumb on the scale of justice one way or the other, but she understands the broader impact of her decisions. Whether it’s cases addressing the rights of workers or government service, she cares about making sure that a democracy works for the American people. She listens. She looks people in the eye, lawyers, defendants, victims, and families, and she strives to ensure that everyone understands why she may made a decision, what the law is and what it means to them. She strives to be fair, to get it right, to do justice. That’s something all of us should remember, and it’s something I’ve thought about throughout this process. And as a matter of fact, I thought about it walking over here with her.

President Biden: (18:28)
One floor below, we have several displays celebrating black history month. One of them includes the judicial oath of office taken and signed by Justice Thurgood Marshall, himself, an oath that will be once again, administered to a distinguished American who will help write the next chapter in the history of the journey of America; a journey that judge Jackson will take with her family. I hope I don’t embarrass him, but her husband, Patrick, a surgeon, Dr. Patrick, stand up, let them see who you are. There you go. They met when they’re undergraduate students at Harvard and he’s a distinguished cancer surgeon in Georgetown.

President Biden: (19:12)
Like so many women in this country, Judge Jackson is a working mom. She had her eldest child, Talia, when she was a private lawyer in practice. She had her second child, Leila, when she served on the US Sentencing Commission. Stand up Leila. I asked Leila when I showed her through the office whether she’d like to be President, she looked …. I don’t know about that, there’s other things … Anyway, Leila, you’re welcome to be here. Thank you so much and welcome your sister, who’s up in school in Rhode Island, Now.

President Biden: (19:46)
I have children and grandchildren and let me tell you, judge, you’re always a mom. That’s not going to change no matter what you’re doing, whether you’re on the Supreme Court or not. And I’ve always had a deep respect for the Supreme Court and judiciary as a co-equal branch of the government. I mean it. The court is equally as important as the Presidency or the Congress, it’s co-equal.

President Biden: (20:09)
So today, I’m pleased to not Judge Jackson, who’ll bring extraordinary qualifications, deep experience in intellect and a rigorous judicial record to the court. Judge Jackson deserves to be confirmed as the next justice Supreme Court. I’ve met with the chairman and ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Chuck Grassley, and my hope is that they will move promptly, and I know they’ll move fairly.

President Biden: (20:37)
Judge Jackson, congratulations, and the podium is yours. Let me pull this out for you.

President Biden: (20:43)
How, where, there you go. You got it, but okay. See Peresident’s can’t do much. Thank you.

Ketanji Jackson: (21:04)
Thank you, Mr. President.

Ketanji Jackson: (21:08)
Thank you very much, Mr. President. I am truly humbled by the extraordinary honor of this nomination and I am especially grateful for the care that you have taken in discharging your constitutional duty in service of our democracy with all that is go on in the world today. I also offer my sincerest thanks to you as well, madam Vice President, for your invaluable role in this nomination process.

Ketanji Jackson: (21:41)
I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking God for delivering me to this point in my professional journey. My life has been blessed beyond measure and I do know that one can only come this far by faith. Among my many blessings, indeed, the very first is the fact that I was born this great country. The United States of America is the greatest beacon of hope and democracy the world has ever known. I was also blessed from my early days to have had a supportive and loving family. 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. It was my father who started me on this path when I was a child, as the president mentioned. My father made the fateful decision to transition from his job as a public high school history teacher and go to law school. Some of my earliest memories are of him sitting at the kitchen table, reading his law books. I watched him study and he became my first professional role model. My mother, who was also a public high school teacher provided invaluable support in those early days, working full-time to enable my father’s career transition while also guiding and inspiring four year old me. My only sibling, my brother, Ketajh came along half a decade later, and I’m so proud of all that he’s accomplished.

Ketanji Jackson: (23:33)
After graduating from Howard University, he became a police officer and a detective on some of the toughest streets in the inner city of Baltimore. After that he enlisted in the army, serving two tours of duty in the middle east. I believe that he was following the example set by my uncles who are in law enforcement. You may have read that I have one uncle who got caught up in the drug trade and received a life sentence. That is true. But law enforcement also runs in my family. In addition to my brother, I had two uncles who served decades as police officers, one of whom became the police chief in my hometown of Miami, Florida. I am standing here today by the grace of God, as testament to the love and support that I’ve received from my family.

Ketanji Jackson: (24:30)
I have also been blessed with many dear friends, colleagues, mentors, law clerks. I could not possibly name all of the people to whom I owe. Great thanks. But I must mention specifically the three really for whom I had the privilege of serving as a law clerk at the outset of my legal career: US district Judge Patti Saris in Massachusetts, U.S. Court of Appeals, Judge Bruce Selya in Rhode Island, and last but certainly not least, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ketanji Jackson: (25:09)
Justice Breyer, in particular, not only gave me the greatest job that any young lawyer could ever hope to have, but he also exemplified every day in every way that a Supreme Court justice can perform at the highest level of skill and integrity while also being guided by civility, grace, pragmatism and generosity of spirit. Justice Breyer, the members of the Senate will decide if I fill your seat, but please know that I could never fill shoes.

Ketanji Jackson: (25:49)
To my dear family, those who are here with me now, and those who are watching from home, I am forever indebted to you for your love and support. To my beloved husband. Patrick, thank you for being my rock today and every day for these past 26 years, I love you. To my daughters, Talia and Leila, you are the light of my life. Please know that whatever title I may hold or whatever job I may have, I will still be your mom. That will never change.

Ketanji Jackson: (26:26)
There are so many other people I would love love to be able to address and to thank, but time is short. So let me end by sharing an interesting coincidence that has actually meant a great deal to me over the years. As it happens, I share a birthday with the first black woman ever to be appointed as a federal judge, the honorable Constance Baker Motley. We were born exactly 49 years, to the day, apart. Today, I proudly stand on Judge Motley’s shoulders, sharing not only her birthday, but also her steadfast and courageous commitment to equal justice under law. Judge Motley’s life and career has been a true inspiration to me as I have pursued this professional path. And if I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the constitution and my commitment to upholding the of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded will inspire future generations of Americans. Thank you again, Mr. President for this extraordinary honor.

President Biden: (28:06)
I forgot to introduce the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden and the Second Gentleman, nice, that seems strange to say that, but the second is Doug Emhoff. They’re both here as well, so thank you. Thank you all.

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