In a historic move, President Biden is expected to nominate Ketanji Brown Jackson, currently a DC Circuit Court of Appeals judge, as his choice for the United States Supreme Court, the White House confirmed Friday. The selection would make Jackson the first black woman to sit on the bench.
Jackson, 51, is a favorite of progressives because of her background as a former DC public defender and former clerk to U.S. Judge Associate Breyer, whose seat she would fill after her announced retirement this year if she was confirmed by the US Senate.
Joni Madison, acting president of the Human Rights Campaign, praised Jackson’s choice for his “integrity, professionalism and unwavering commitment to the Constitution.”
“Her tenure on the bench provides ample evidence that she is both prepared and trusted for that highest privilege and responsibility that comes with sitting on our highest court,” Madison said.
Madison said the Human Rights Campaign stands with Jackson: “After careful review of her case, it is clear that Jackson’s demonstrated loyalty to the principles of our Constitution inspires confidence that she will continue Justice Breyer’s legacy as a as a champion of equality.”
When it comes to LGBTQ issues, however, Jackson’s record isn’t without its flaws. She worked as a counselor for a Baptist school in suburban Maryland that had a mission statement against LGBTQ people and abortion.
The now-defunct school, known as Montrose Christian School, had posted a statement on its website condemning homosexuality and abortion, in line with its religious views, as documented by the conservative Washington Examiner at the time of Jackson’s confirmation process for his current seat on the DC Court of Appeals.
The mission statement urged students to uphold a “Christian character”, which, among other things, in the school’s opinion, meant that they were to oppose “all forms of sexual immorality, including including adultery, homosexuality and pornography”. Abortion is also implicitly condemned in the mission statement: “We should speak on behalf of the unborn child and strive for the sanctity of all human life, from conception to natural death.
On Jackson’s nomination, conservatives scorched by attacks on current U.S. Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett during her process of confirming her ties to religious groups with anti-LGBTQ views, as well as her affiliation with the anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, may cynically point to Jackson’s past affiliation with the school as a reason to attack him or progressives as hypocrites for not opposing his confirmation.
Jackson addressed her past work with the school during the confirmation process for her current job in response to questions from Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Maintaining her role on the Montrose Baptist Church advisory board was limited and she was unaware of his position statement.
“I knew Montrose Christian School was affiliated with Montrose Baptist Church,” Jackson said. “I was not aware that the school had a public website or that a statement of beliefs was posted on the school website at the time of my service. My service on the School Advisory Board primarily involved planning fundraising activities for schools to benefit enrolled students. I received no compensation for my service.
Nan Hunter, a law professor emeritus at Georgetown University who has written on LGBTQ issues, previously downplayed Blade Jackson’s Montrose Christian School affiliation in an email as evidence that she would be hostile to LGBTQ people. as a judge of the Supreme Court.
“Judge Jackson apparently volunteered for a year to help raise money for student services at a Christian school in suburban DC,” Hunter said. “There is no indication in her professional record or personal experience that she holds anti-gay views. In my opinion, her lifelong commitment to equality far outweighs any fear that may be biased against LGBT rights.
Progressive groups were not deterred by Jackson’s work for Montrose Christian School in their support for his nomination.
Fatima Goss Graves, CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement that Jackson is “an eminently qualified public servant with a distinguished experience as a federal judge.”
“As a district court judge, she has adjudicated over 550 cases and is renowned for her careful and methodical approach to ensuring equal justice under the Reproductive Rights Act, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and workers’ rights,” Graves said. “It is incumbent on senators to give her fair and timely confirmation without obstruction, respecting their constitutional duty to advise and consent and their moral duty to treat her with the respect and dignity she deserves.”