Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, officially making her the nation’s first Black woman to serve in the role.
She will fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, whose previously announced departure after nearly 28 years on the bench took effect Thursday at noon.
Jackson thanked her new colleagues for “their warm and gracious welcome” and said she was “especially grateful for the time and attention given to me by the Chief Justice and by Justice Breyer.”
She called Breyer “a personal friend and mentor of mine for the past two decades, in addition to being part of today’s official act.”
“In the wake of his exemplary service, with the support of my family and friends, and ever mindful of the duty to promote the Rule of Law, I am well-positioned to serve the American people,” she added in a statement.
Jackson is expected to join Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in forming a three-member liberal minority on the court, a role previously filled by Breyer, for whom Jackson once clerked.
At 51, Jackson’s replacement of Breyer adds youth and diversity, and on certain issues a likely more liberal approach than Breyer, who was known for his judicial modesty and pragmatism.
Her nomination caps off her rise through the federal judiciary after less than two years on the D.C. Circuit Court and eight years as a federal district judge in D.C.
She joins a court at the conclusion of a tumultuous term that will be remembered for the 6-3 decision last week that overturned Roe v. Wade along ideological lines, ending the nearly 50-year federal right to abortion.
Although Jackson’s addition does not fundamentally change the ideological balance on the 6-3 conservative-majority court, court watchers say her unique voice and background, including her service as a public defender, could make her an inspiring and forceful presence on the bench.