On Thursday, following the conclusion of the Supreme Court’s term, Justice Stephen Breyer formally retired from active service, as he had announced his intent to do in January.
Mere hours later, history was made as his replacement, Ketanji Brown Jackson, was officially sworn in as the newest associate justice of the Supreme Court, Fox News reported.
The event had historic significance due to the fact that Justice Jackson is the first black woman to ever serve on the nation’s highest court.
Formal oaths administered
Shortly after noon on Thursday, in the West Conference Room of the Supreme Court building, Chief Justice John Roberts led Jackson through her constitutional oath. Immediately after that, Justice Breyer led his replacement through a recitation of the judicial oath.
Once those two required oaths were complete, Roberts announced, “Now, on behalf of all the members of the court, I’m pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling.”
The chief justice further noted that a formal investiture ceremony in which Jackson would take her seat on the bench would occur once the next term began in the fall, but explained that the oaths had been administered now to give the new justice a head start on acclimating to her new job.
Nominated in February, confirmed in April, now sworn-in in June
President Joe Biden, who had nominated Justice Jackson as Justice Breyer’s replacement, issued a statement to mark the occasion and said, “Her historic swearing-in today represents a profound step forward for our nation, for all the young, Black girls who now see themselves reflected on our highest court, and for all of us as Americans.”
His appointment of Jackson to replace Breyer made good on the controversial vow he had made during his presidential campaign to only consider black women for any potential vacancies on the high court.
Jackson had been nominated in February and breezed through a relatively uneventful confirmation process in the Senate, which approved her by a vote of 53-47 in April — though she was compelled to remain on the sidelines until the current term concluded and Breyer formally stepped down from the bench.
Four women justices are now on the high court
Aside from being the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Jackson is only the sixth woman overall to serve, and now joins Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Elena Kagen, and Sonia Sotomayor on the high bench.
Preceding those women who are currently serving were the late Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed by Bill Clinton, who clearly served as ground-breaking pioneers for the current female jurists and those who will undoubtedly serve in the future.