Supreme Court Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson told The Washington Post that she was shocked when she saw the draft leak of the court’s opinion that would strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a federally protected right.
“Everybody who is familiar with the court and the way in which it works was shocked by that," said Jackson in the interview, which was published on Monday. “Such a departure from normal order.”
However, when pressed if it was a good or a bad thing, she replied, “I can’t answer that.”
Jackson gave a similar answer when asked what she thought about peaceful protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices, saying “I don’t have any comment.”
She also discussed the pressure of being the first Black female justice, calling it “a work in progress.”
“I’m so honored to have so many people who have encouraged me, who have supported me and who view this as a really important step for our country and for our society,” Jackson said.
She stressed, “it’s not about me personally, in a sense. I’m embodying this progress that many people feel we’re making by having me appointed to this seat. And so it’s pretty daunting in a lot of ways.”
However, she said: “I feel prepared because I’ve been one of a handful of African Americans doing what I do at this level for a while. It’s not unfamiliar to me to be a ‘first’ or an ‘only’ or whatever small group of people who are performing in legal circles like this — obviously nothing like as momentous as this.
She added that being a first “means you feel the weight of wanting to succeed, not just for you in your own independent status, but because so many people are watching and view this as a door opening for others. I know in the past I’ve felt, Gosh, I’ve really got to do well here so that other people will have this opportunity down the line. That I might be the first, but I don’t want to be the last, and it’s on my shoulders to make sure that I leave a good impression so that others can follow.”
When asked how she was going to approach her seat, Jackson said, “I’m going to approach it in the same way I have approached all of my other judicial appointments: understanding what my role is, understanding the way our system was designed and is supposed to work."
She emphasized that “I’m an optimistic person by nature. [I] will approach this by bringing that and my experience as a judge, my experience as a person in the world and my interest in making it all work."
Jackson said she wants people to know that “I take my responsibilities very seriously. That I’m a mom and a real person and a wife and doing the best that I can. Judges are human beings. We have a duty that we focus on and that we take seriously.”
She said this is “hard because the nature of our work involves resolving disputes, so someone is always going to be disappointed; someone’s going to lose. But in our society, we’ve agreed that this is the way in which disputes get resolved ... and I’m so honored to be a part of that.”
Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.
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