Live updates: Biden formally introduces 'truly humbled' Ketanji Brown Jackson as Supreme Court pick

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden formally announced U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his choice for a seat on the Supreme Court at the White House on Friday, marking the first time in history a Black woman has been named to the nation's highest court. 

The nomination, Biden's first, set off a frenzy of activity in the Senate, where Democrats have said they hope to use their thin majority to move to a final vote by early April. If confirmed, Jackson would replace Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced he intends to retire in June.

During her remarks at the White House, Jackson had special praise for retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, for whom she once clerked.

"I could never fill your shoes," said Jackson as her husband and one of her two daughters looked on.

The high court:What is the Supreme Court? Everything you need to know about the SCOTUS and its justices

The process:Supreme Court confirmation: How the process for Ketanji Brown Jackson will unfold in the Senate

 She said Breyer “exemplified every day in every way that a Supreme Court justice can perform at the highest level of skill and integrity, while also being guided by civility, grace, pragmatism, and generosity of spirit.”

Jackson, 51, serves on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. A former Breyer clerk, she was confirmed by the Senate last year for the appeals court. 

First Black woman:Biden to nominate Ketanji Brown Jackson to Supreme Court

Pioneers:For Black women judges like Jackson, blazing a trail has meant scrutiny

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, with President Joe Biden, speaks after she was nominated for Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, in the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, DC, February 25, 2022.

Jackson hopes to inspire just as she was inspired

Judge Jackson said that if confirmed she hopes to inspire future generations. 

Concluding her remarks, Jackson said, “I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded, will inspire future generations of Americans.”

- Dylan Wells

Jackson references Judge Constance Baker Motley

During her remarks Friday, Judge Jackson called attention to the first Black woman ever nominated to a federal court: Judge Constance Baker Motley.

Motley, a civil rights icon, was nominated to the U.S. District court in New York by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. She was a protégé of Thurgood Marshall before he became the first African American justice on the Supreme Court in 1967.

More:For Black women judges like Jackson, blazing a trail has meant scrutiny, assumptions

Jackson noted that she and Motley shared a birthday.

"We were born exactly 49 years to the day apart," Motley said. "Today I proudly stand on Judge Motley shoulders, sharing not only her birthday, but also her steadfast and courageous commitment to equal justice under law."

-- John Fritze

Jackson notes one of her qualifications: being 'a working mom'

First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff watched from seats in the White House’s Cross Hall alongside Jackson’s husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, a Washington D.C. surgeon, and Leila Jackson, one of their two daughters.

There were no other guests. Nearly 20 White House staff members looked on from the back of the room and a side staircase as a throng of reporters stood facing Jackson.

Jackson’s remarks were delayed by a few seconds after Biden struggled to retrieve a stepstool for her to stand on.

“See, presidents can’t do much,” Biden joked, then turned around and embraced his historic Supreme Court pick.

Biden noted Jackson’s credentials as a “working mom,” and in her remarks Jackson sought to assure her children: “Please know that whatever titles I may hold or whatever job I may have, I will still be your mom. That will never change.”

Jackson thanks Biden - and God - for the nomination

In thanking Biden for the nomination, Jackson consistently referenced her religious faith.

"I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking God for delivering me to this point in my professional journey," Jackson said.

"My life has been blessed beyond measure," she added.

- Joey Garrison and David Jackson

Jackson ‘truly humbled’ by nomination

Judge Jackson, speaking for the first time since Biden nominated to her to the Supreme Court, said her life “has been blessed beyond measure.”

Jackson told the story of her values have been shaped by her family and she pointed to her faith as allowing her to reach this historic moment.

Jackson said she is “truly humbled by the extraordinary honor of this nomination.”

-- John Fritze

AG Garland - a former high court nominee - calls Jackson 'outstanding'

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Supreme Court nominee himself, called Biden's choice "outstanding."

“I have known Judge Jackson since she served as a federal public defender. I also had the privilege to serve alongside Judge Jackson during her eight years as a district judge before she joined the D.C. Circuit,” he said. “I have witnessed firsthand her exceptional abilities as both a lawyer and a judge, her commitment to the rule of law and equal justice under law, and her generosity of spirit."

Garland knows what it's like to be nominated to the high court, having been tapped in 2016 by President Obama to fill the seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland never got a hearing or a vote in the GOP-controlled Senate, which prevented him from serving on the Supreme Court.

- Kevin Johnson

Biden highlights Jackson’s clerkship for Justice Breyer

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson clerked for retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, whose seat she will fill if confirmed by the Senate. 

“Not only did she learn about being a judge from Justice Breyer himself, she saw the great rigor through which Justice Breyer approached his work,” Biden said.

He added, “she learned from his willingness to work with colleagues with different viewpoints, critical qualities in my view for any Supreme Court justice.”

- Dylan Wells

Biden consulted VP Harris, lawmakers on choice

Biden said he consulted the advice of both Democratic and Republican members of Congress and thanked Vice President Kamala Harris for her help with the nomination process.

“I've been fortunate to have the advice of Vice President Harris,” Biden said.

Biden praised Harris as an “exceptional lawyer, former Attorney General of California, and a former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.” The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on Jackson’s nomination before she proceeds to a full Senate vote.

Biden lauded Jackson's credentials and said Jackson has a “pragmatic understanding that the law must work for the American people.”

- David Jackson and Dylan Wells

Biden formally introduces Judge Jackson as SCOTUS nominee

President Joe Biden and U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have entered the Cross Hall of the White House, where the president is formally introducing her as his historic nominee to the Supreme Court.

“Today, as we watch freedom and liberty under attack abroad, I'm here to fulfill my responsibility under the Constitution to preserve freedom and liberty," Biden said.

The announcement comes on the two-year anniversary of Biden’s pledge to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court for the first time in its 233-year history.

-- John Fritze

Biden references Russian invasion of Ukraine

In introducing the new high nominee, Biden referred to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and drew a contrast to U.S. democracy.

US President Joe Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris (R), introduces his nominee for the US Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson (L), at the White House in Washington, DC, on February 25, 2022.

"Today as we watch freedom and liberty under attack abroad, I'm here to fulfill my responsibilities under the Constitution to preserve freedom and liberty here in the United States of America," he said.

- David Jackson

Biden to introduce Jackson as SCOTUS nominee at 2 p.m.

President Joe Biden will introduce Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his Supreme Court nominee in remarks at 2 p.m. EST from the White House’s Cross Hall.

Jackson, a 51-year-old federal appeals court judge in Washington, D.C. is also expected to speak.

The announcement comes during a challenging moment for the White House as Russia launches a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Biden vowed to announce his nominee before the end of February, allowing him to tout Jackson’s credentials during Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

Jackson would make history as the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

The White House called Jackson “an exceptionally qualified nominee as well as an historic nominee” and urged the Senate to “move forward with a fair and timely hearing and confirmation.”

– Joey Garrison

Manchin noncommittal about voting to confirm Jackson

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., a critical swing vote on many issues in the evenly divided Senate, was noncommittal about voting to confirm Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

“Just as I have done with previous Supreme Court nominees, I will evaluate Judge Jackson’s record, legal qualifications and judicial philosophy to serve on the highest court in the land,” Manchin said in a statement. “I look forward to meeting with Judge Jackson before determining whether to provide my consent.”

A moderate Democrat, Manchin has bucked Biden on the president’s domestic spending agenda and passing a filibuster carve-out for voting rights. He has publicly praised another contender who Biden considered for the Supreme Court, federal judge Michelle Childs of South Carolina.

Senator Joe Manchin

Still, Manchin is widely expected to support Jackson’s confirmation, having voted for Jackson last year when Biden nominated her to the U.S. district court in Washington D.C.

Manchin has also expressed support for nominating a Black woman to the bench and has a record of supporting Supreme Court nominees of both parties. An exception was President Trump’s nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, citing the rushed process ahead of the 2020 election.

-- Joey Garrison

Barack Obama: Ketanji Brown Jackson inspires young Black women

Former President Barack Obama, the nation's first Black president, praised Jackson on Friday as a trailblazer who has "already inspired young Black women like my daughters to set their sights higher."

"Her confirmation will help them believe they can be anything they want to be," Obama said.

The former president nominated two justices to the Supreme Court – both women – Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan a year later. Sotomayor is the nation's first Latina to sit on the high court.

Obama also has a connection to Jackson: He nominated her to U.S. District court in 2009. Jackson was also reportedly on Obama's shortlist for the Supreme Court.

“Like Justice Breyer, Judge Jackson understands that the law isn’t just about abstract theory,” Obama said. “It’s about people’s lives.”

– John Fritze

Sen. Susan Collins praises Jackson’s experience, credentials

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, praised Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as an “experienced federal judge with impressive academic and legal credentials” in a statement about Biden’s Supreme Court nominee.

“I will conduct a through vetting of Judge Jackson’s nomination,” Collins said.

Collins was one of three Republican senators who voted for Jackson’s confirmation last year as a D.C. federal circuit judge, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Graham criticized Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court Friday.

Collins, a moderate Republican who won reelection in 2020, voted for both of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

– Joey Garrison

Chuck Grassley, top Republican on Senate Judiciary, says 'I look forward' to meeting with Jackson

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said “I look forward to meeting with Judge Jackson face to face on Capitol Hill in the coming days, and working with Senator (Dick) Durbin to finalize the committee’s initial questionnaire and records request, as is customary in this process.” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is the chair of the committee.

“As I always have, I’ll make my determination based on the experience, qualifications, temperament and judicial philosophy of the nominee,” Grassley said, promising that Jackson will “receive the most thorough and rigorous vetting.” 

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, another member of the committee, said “Ultimately I will be looking to see whether Judge Jackson will uphold the rule of law and call balls and strikes, or if she will legislate from the bench in pursuit of a specific agenda.”

– Dylan Wells

Former GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan praises Jackson’s character, integrity

As Senate Republicans weigh their response to President Joe Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court, one influential former GOP leader – Paul Ryan -- is praising Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Jackson is related by marriage to Ryan, the former House speaker. Jackson's husband is the twin brother of Ryan's brother-in-law. The former Wisconsin lawmaker testified on Jackson's behalf when she was nominated to the federal district court in 2012.

"Janna and I are incredibly happy for Ketanji and her entire family," Ryan tweeted on Friday. "Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji's intellect, for her character, and for her integrity, is unequivocal."

– John Fritze

Mitch McConnell: Jackson is 'favored choice of far-left, dark-money groups' 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said “The Senate must conduct a rigorous, exhaustive review of Judge Jackson’s nomination as befits a lifetime appointment to our highest Court.” 

McConnell noted that he voted against confirming Jackson to her current role when she faced a Senate vote last year. In the statement, McConnell framed Jackson as “the favored choice of far-left dark-money groups that have spent years attacking the legitimacy and structure of the Court itself.”

McConnell said he looks forward to meeting with Jackson in person, and “studying her record, legal views, and judicial philosophy.” 

– Dylan Wells

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer: Jackson will get bipartisan support

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, will garner bipartisan support during her upcoming confirmation process in the Senate. 

“Jackson has been confirmed by the United States Senate on a bipartisan basis three times and I expect she will again earn bipartisan support in the Senate,” Schumer said. 

“As the first Black woman Supreme Court Justice in the Court’s 232-year-history, she will inspire countless future generations of young Americans,” he added.

Before Jackson faces a full Senate vote, she must first clear the Senate Judiciary Committee. Schumer promised a “prompt hearing,” after which he said he would “ask the Senate to move immediately to confirm her to the Supreme Court.” 

“Judge Jackson’s achievements are well known to the Senate Judiciary Committee as we approved her to the D.C. Circuit less than a year ago with bipartisan support,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chair of the committee. 

– Dylan Wells

Lindsey Graham slams Jackson pick after pushing for different nominee

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., slammed Biden's nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, saying it "means the radical left has won President Biden over yet again."

In the past, Graham broke party ranks and voted for Supreme Court nominees of President Barack Obama, including Associate Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. But his reaction suggests he won’t support Jackson’s confirmation as Biden seeks bipartisan support in the Senate.

Graham, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, had lobbied publicly for U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs for the nomination, a candidate who was also supported by Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. Graham was one of three Republicans who voted for Jackson's confirmation to the D.C. Circuit last year. 

"The attacks by the Left on Judge Childs from South Carolina apparently worked," Graham wrote on Twitter.

– Joey Garrison

Pick named on vow's anniversary

There is a symmetry to the timing of Biden's announcement: Friday marked the two-year anniversary of his pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. 

Biden's campaign for the Democratic nomination was struggling in February 2020. Pete Buttigieg had narrowly captured the most delegates from the Iowa caucuses. Biden placed a disappointing fifth in New Hampshire. The future president announced his promise to choose an African American woman for the high court for the first time on the debate stage, four days before the South Carolina primary. 

"Everyone – and no one's better than me and I'm no better than anyone else. The fact is, what we should be doing – we talked about the Supreme Court," Biden said in response to a question about the biggest misconception voters had about him. "I'm looking forward to making sure there's a black woman on the Supreme Court, to make sure we in fact get every representation."

President Joe Biden speaks about Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington.

The promise received little attention at the time. But Democrats said it resonated with Black voters there and probably contributed to his win in the state – fueling his path to the nomination and the White House. It also helped secure a critical endorsement of South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House.     

– John Fritze

Americans support diversity on court 

Biden's announcement marks the first time a Black woman has ever been named to the Supreme Court. If Jackson is confirmed, it will also be the first time two African Americans serve on the high court together. And the first time four women will occupy the nation's highest bench at the same time.

A new USA TODAY/Suffolk poll shows that Americans broadly favor diversity on the court but disagree about how significant a factor it should be for presidents. 

A third of Americans say diversity on the high court should be "an important factor" for presidents to consider when choosing nominees while another 11% say it should be the main factor, according to the poll of 1,000 likely voters, conducted Feb. 15-20. Twenty-nine percent said diversity should be "just one of many factors" considered. 

Just more than two in 10 Americans said diversity shouldn't be a factor at all.

Poll:Majority of Americans say diversity should be a factor for Supreme Court 

– John Fritze

Tricky timing for Biden on SCOTUS 

It was supposed to be a reset for the Biden administration, a historic celebration of the first Black woman ever to be nominated to the Supreme Court.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin had other plans.

Normally a Supreme Court nominee offers a White House a news cycle of solidly positive news. But the developing situation in Ukraine is likely to distract attention from Biden’s pick, and some had speculated the president might even reschedule it.

But White House officials stressed for days that the president wasn’t going to move his timeline and he had already set a deadline: The end of February. Biden was interviewing candidates for the post even as the situation in Europe deteriorated.

One timing advantage Biden still has – and what may have driven the decision not to postpone: The State of the Union address on Tuesday. That high-profile address will give Biden a high-profile opportunity to tout his pick to two audiences: The nation, and the Senate, which now takes up the task of considering her confirmation.

– John Fritze