Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court on Thursday, making history as she succeeds retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.
Jackson took the two required oaths on Thursday, with Chief Justice John Roberts administering the constitutional oath and Breyer administrating the judicial oath in a ceremony held in the West Conference Room. Some of Jackson’s relatives were in attendance.
“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God,” Brown said in a written statement. “I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great nation.”
Brown thanked her new colleagues “for their warm and gracious welcome,” and said she is “especially grateful for the time and attention” given to her by Roberts and Breyer, who she noted “has been a personal friend and mentor of mine for the past two decades, in addition to being part of today’s official act.”
Brown’s swearing in comes as the high court with a conservative majority issued consequential rulings that rolled back the EPA’s authority to help combat climate change, overturned the landmark case of Roe v. Wade and green lit the largest expansion of gun rights in decades.
The Senate confirmed Jackson to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court in April, with three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) — joining all Democrats in voting to confirm her.
In her speech shortly after her Senate confirmation, Jackson said that in her family “it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
“It is an honor of a lifetime to have this chance to join the court, to promote the rule of law at the highest level, and to do my part to carry out shared project of democracy and equal justice under law forward, into the future,” Brown said.
Brown is the first Black woman to serve on the high court, and is also the first justice to hold decades of experience in representing criminal defendants.
Brown’s filling of Breyer’s seat does not change conservatives’ staggering 6-3 majority. Brown is expected to be part of the minority alongside Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, offering dissents in response to the conservative majority.