Liberal Justice Jackson joins a right-wing US Supreme Court

  • Jackson joins Sotomayor and Kagan in court’s liberal block
  • Major race cases loom for first black woman in US court

September 30 (Reuters) – Liberal appointee President Joe Biden Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is expected to hear arguments for the first time on Monday as a justice of the United States Supreme Court, joins the highest judicial body in the country at a watershed moment when its conservative majority has shown an increased willingness to exercise power over a range of issues.

Jackson, the first black woman in the field, and his eight new colleagues will review a list of important cases over the next nine months. These involve race-conscious admissions policies used by colleges and universities to foster student diversity, right to voteenvironmental regulations, LGBT and religious rightsthe power of federal agencies – and even a dispute over Andy Warhol paintings.

“Given the evolution of the case, there is no indication that this will be a silent warrant for Judge Jackson to join,” said law professor Allison Orr Larsen of the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

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The court has a 6-3 conservative majority, with Jackson joining a liberal bloc that has been relegated to issuing strong dissents in the most important decisions. For example, the court’s conservative majority issued back-to-back rulings in June, overturning its 1973 precedent that had legalization of abortion nationwide and expand gun rights stating that the U.S. Constitution protects an individual’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense.

A Reuters/Ipsos survey conducted after these rulings showed that a majority of Americans held unfavorable views of the court.

Jackson’s two fellow liberal justices, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, in public appearances this summer raised concerns that the court was playing to its hard-earned legitimacy with the public by appearing political.

“I don’t think those kinds of concerns will be enough to persuade five of the right-wing justices in many of these cases not to just use their raw power to achieve the ends they seek,” the professor said. Boston University School of Law. said Jonathan Feingold.

Chief Justice John Roberts broke with the other conservative justices – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – in formally opposing the overturning of the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling by 1973, even though he voted to keep Mississippi’s restrictive abortion law. a tissue.

When the court begins its new term on Monday, Jackson will sit for the first time since being nominated by Biden, a Democrat, to succeed retired liberal Justice Stephen Breyer. The Senate in April Confirmed Jackson, who was a federal appeals judge, despite widespread opposition among Republicans. Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, called Jackson a “radical left” pick.

“I decide cases from a neutral position. I assess the facts, and interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, in accordance with my judicial oath,” Jackson told the Committee. Senate Judiciary at its March Confirmation Hearing.

Jackson is due to appear for a swearing-in ceremony on Friday with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris due to attend, though justice has been ruled out. officially sworn in June 30.

The first month of the new term includes arguments in cases that present opportunities for conservative justices to limit the scope of a great environmental lawcrippling the protections of a major civil rights law against racial discrimination in voting; and ending affirmative action admissions policies used by colleges and universities to increase their numbers of black and Hispanic students.

The affirmative action litigation involves challenges to policies used by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. Jackson, who earned undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard and served on its board of supervisors, recused herself of the Harvard affair but should take part in that of North Carolina.

While liberal justices may simply play dissenters in some major cases, Jackson could help shape some decisions, especially when his expertise is put forward. His perspective on criminal justice issues is informed by his past service both as a trial judge and as a public defender – work that none of the other sitting judges has ever done. Jackson also served on a commission to review sentencing guidelines for the federal judiciary.

“These are all issues that I suspect Judge Jackson would care about,” Larsen said.

Jackson joins the court in the middle investigation ordered by Roberts in the May leak of a draft abortion ruling, a disclosure he called a betrayal.

“It’s not a wound that’s going to heal quickly. The reality is that she’s entering a court that endured a particularly difficult circumstance in the run,” said Megan Wold, a former legal assistant to Alito now at the firm. of Cooper & Kirk lawyers.

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Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Will Dunham

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nathalie Raymond

Thomson Reuters

Nate Raymond reports on federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at

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