Historic nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson evokes strong reaction at NCCU

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Following President Joe Biden's historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, many with ties to North Carolina Central University's law school applauded the move.

"I understand the importance of representation and diversity on our bench. So it is amazing to have someone who looks like me making those decisions," said Josephine Kerr Davis, a Superior Court Judge in Durham County and adjunct professor at NC Central's School of Law.

NC Central is one of six HBCUs in the country with a law school.

"One of my students once told me that she recognized she could be a judge because she saw me as a judge. Now I recognize that I can, too accelerate on the bench because of what Judge Brown is doing, and the doors that she's opening," said Davis.

Terris Riley, a third-year NC Central law student, added: "She will be writing Supreme Court decisions. Those opinions will now be printed in the history books. And we will have someone who understands life through our lens."

In the nearly 233-year history of the Supreme Court, only five female Justices have served -- Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Amy Coney Barrett; Brown Jackson would become the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, and only the third Black jurist (Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas).

"This is important for people like me, other African-American female law students, or even if you're practicing or a judge, or on the bench right now, we get to see someone who looks like us in a place we should have been a long time ago," said Riley.

Brown Jackson, a Harvard-educated jurist, was appointed to the US District Court in Washington, D.C. in 2013, serving for eight years, prior to being named to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last summer.

"It's important because we need to have a diverse Supreme Court. The Court is making important decisions that are going to affect everyday people. You need the decision-makers to be able to consider all different views, all different perspectives, have an understanding of different content. And if you have a bench, a Supreme Court bench, that is only looking at problems from a particular angle, you're not going to get the best decisions," said April Dawson, the Associate Dean of Technology and Innovation at NC Central's School of Law. Dawson has worked in both the public and private sectors, including for the Department of Justice.

If confirmed, Brown Jackson would assume Justice Stephen Breyer's seat; last month, he announced plans to retire. Brown Jackson clerked for Breyer in 1999 and 2000.

"We want the Supreme Court to visually represent and reflect a diverse society. And it speaks to the credibility of the court that are being rendered by a particular group and it doesn't reflect the entire society," said Dawson.

Brown Jackson has previously received bipartisan support for lower court confirmations, including from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham last year. However, Graham tweeted his disapproval of the nomination Friday morning, writing in part "the radical Left has won President Biden over again."
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