"I could not stop crying": Law students react to swearing in of KBJ

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Friday, July 1, 2022
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Local law students react to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Chazle Woodley gladly gave up eight minutes of her day to witness history on the nation's highest court.

"I could not stop crying," said the NC Central School of Law graduate, who is studying for the bar. "It's hard but I could only think about everything she's done to get to the point she's at today. I think today was a great light of everything going on."

Ketanji Brown Jackson took the oath of office Thursday from Chief Justice John Roberts.

Her hand was placed on a family Bible as well as the Harlan Bible.

Justice John Harlan was nicknamed the "Great Dissenter." He was the lone justice who disagreed with the ruling of "Separate versus Equal" in 'Plessy v Ferguson' in the late 1800s.

"I think she was sending a signal and now more than ever we need a signal to be sent about those who do believe in the power of the Federal government," said Dr. Deborah Stroman, adjunct professor at UNC's Gillings School of Public Health and an expert on equity and inclusion.

She believes Justice Jackson's swearing in comes at a critical time.

It's a week after Roe was overturned. It also comes the same day the court limited the ability of the EPA from regulating carbon emissions and months before they look at affirmative action including admissions policies at UNC.

"She is a role model and I think about our youth," Dr. Stroman said. "Our Brown and Black children who can look to her and say, 'That can be me.'"

Josephine Kerr-Davis has been watching the confirmation process closely. She's a superior court judge in Durham County.

"She's coming into a court that is struggling and grappling with a lot of things that impact our daily lives," Justice Kerr-Davis said. "It's huge because we finally see we're inching one step closer to equity and equality."

Vanessa Keverange a Duke Law School student who has also been following said it "enlivened her spirits" after the last week.

"It made me excited for the future and to see and read her opinions as a law student, it's awesome," said Keverenge, who is also the outgoing president of the Black Students Association. "It makes the law more tangible, and it makes me excited to see a court that better reflects the identities, the experiences and the lived realities of more people."

Justice Jackson's swearing in means the three justices in Liberal arm of the Supreme Court are now a Black woman, a Latina and a Jewish woman.