Public Defense Community Speaks Out About Historic Ketanji Brown Jackson Nomination

Black Public Defender Association: “While there are many legal experts, the voice of Black public defenders, who fight for justice daily and intimately know the ramifications of the law on our most vulnerable and marginalized communities, is a needed voice on the high court. We commend President Biden for nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the highest court in the country and sending a message to Black public defenders across the country who are in the trenches fighting against massive systems that oppress communities of color, that their work is seen, their voices are heard and their contribution is valuable.”

Federal Public & Community Defenders: “With his first nomination to the Supreme Court, President Biden has broken yet another barrier for public defenders, and for Black women. This nomination affirms the importance of elevating lawyers who have represented the poor and the powerless to roles where they can improve the administration of justice.”

National Legal Aid & Defender Association: “ Judge Jackson’s professional experience representing people who are caught in the intersection between poverty and the criminal legal system, and her lived experience as a Black woman, make her uniquely capable of championing fairness and justice in our nation’s highest court. We urge the Senate to swiftly approve her nomination.”

National Association for Public Defense: “ We welcome the diversity that Judge Jackson’s career and lived experience will bring to the bench. NAPD is especially proud that a fellow public defender may soon serve on the nation’s highest court—a court long dominated by former prosecutors and corporate attorneys.”

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers:​ “NACDL commends the long-awaited and historic nomination of an attorney who, like the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, chose to defend the individual liberties and freedoms embedded in the Constitution. Having experienced the realities and brutalities of the criminal legal system, she is poised to give life to what otherwise would be abstract parchment principles.”

Fair and Just Prosecution: “Judge Jackson is an exceptional nominee who, if confirmed, will be not simply the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, but also the first-ever former public defender on the Court and the first Justice with criminal defense experience since Thurgood Marshall retired from the bench over three decades ago.”

Partners for Justice: “It is with great satisfaction and joy that we praise President Biden’s choice to elevate a former public defender to the nation’s highest court. Public defenders are unique among attorneys. They choose a path of incredible difficulty, fighting for individuals whom our system so often seeks to silence and oppress, facing the inequities and power imbalances that afflict our legal system day in and day out.” 

The Gault Center (formerly the National Juvenile Defender Center): “The Gault Center congratulates Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on her nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States and eagerly awaits the first-ever Supreme Court Justice with public defender experience.”

The Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU Law: “As a Black woman and former public defender who has risen through the ranks of the legal profession and navigated life in a country that continues to struggle with the legacy of racism and white supremacy, Judge Jackson’s much-needed perspective will deepen the Court’s capacity to dispense equal justice under law.”

Amir Ali, Executive Director, MacArthur Justice Center: “Judge Jackson has set a new bar for all of us. She is an exemplary jurist who strives to leave everyone who enters her courtroom with the feeling that they have been heard, regardless of their wealth or social status. Before that, she was an exemplary lawyer who provided the highest-quality representation to her clients—again, regardless of their wealth or social status. And now Judge Jackson will bring her invaluable life experience to our highest court.”

Ilham Askia, Gideon’s Promise, Executive Director: “I am a person that has been directly impacted by the inequities of the criminal legal system. The nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court by President Biden speaks to the importance of having a former public defender at the highest Court of the land. Judge Jackson has witnessed, first-hand, the unique issues that economically disadvantaged communities face, especially black and brown communities.”