Biden's first judicial picks include DC Circuit nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, said to be SCOTUS contender

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President Joe Biden announced 11 judicial nominees Tuesday, including three Black women nominated for federal appeals courts.

Among them is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, report the Washington Post, Law.com and a White House press release.

Biden has pledged to nominate a Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Jackson is considered to be a contender.

Brown is currently a U.S. district judge in Washington, D.C., where she has served since 2013. Among her decisions was a November 2019 ruling that required former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify in a congressional investigation into how Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election and whether former President Donald Trump tried to obstruct justice.

“Presidents are not kings,” Jackson wrote. “This means that they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.”

Jackson would fill the seat vacated by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who left the D.C. Circuit to become the attorney general.

The other Black women nominated to federal appeals courts are Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder who’s nominated to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago, and Tiffany Cunningham, a partner at Perkins Coie who’s nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Another nominee is U.S. Magistrate Judge Zahid Quraishi, who would become the first Muslim American federal judge if he is confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Four of Biden’s nominees previously worked as public defenders, including Jackson, who was a former assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C. Others have experience as prosecutors, in the military, in the private sector and in government. Two are currently lawyers in BigLaw, while others, including Jackson, have past experience in large firms.

The Washington Post has more information on Jackson’s background.

“Jackson is known as a gifted writer and unflappable jurist who works long hours and has handled many types of cases,” the Washington Post reports. “Before becoming a judge, Jackson spent more time writing briefs than representing clients in the courtroom, making her well suited for the cerebral work of the D.C. Circuit.”

Jackson’s parents were public school teachers. Her father studied law when Jackson was a preschooler and later became a school board attorney. She attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School and also participated in an improv comedy group in which she was once paired with actor Matt Damon.

Jackson is a former law clerk for Justice Stephen G. Breyer, currently the oldest justice on the Supreme Court, and is former vice chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

She is also a former of counsel at Morrison & Foerster and a former associate at Goodwin Proctor and Feinberg Rozen.

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