Overqualified and overlooked

Editorial Board

On Feb. 25, President Joe Biden announced his Supreme Court nomination: Ketanji Brown Jackson. 

Jackson is the first Black woman to be nominated for the position in the Court’s 233-year history and will serve as a replacement for retiring judge, Justice Stephen Breyer. Jackson’s confirmation process involved four days of hearings and the nation watched as she displayed enormous patience in the face of ignorant scrutiny. 

In order to become a nominee, an individual must be highly qualified; Jackson has undoubtedly proven her qualifications by having a career that rivals all of her predecessors. She served as a Public Defender, District Judge and worked in the Sentencing commission — among other positions. However, despite being beyond qualified, Jackson has endured disrespect from right-wing senators who are unaware of what it means to rise to the top as a Black woman — to possess an impenetrable sense of character, unwavering dedication and a long-time commitment to justice.

 On top of this, these same senators presented an appalling double standard given that they had no issue with the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett back in 2020, despite the fact that she was far less qualified than Jackson. Where Jackson has all the aforementioned qualifications, on top of graduating from an Ivy League Law School, having done Supreme Court clerking and serving as a Court of Appeals judge, Barrett doesn’t have so much as half the career or experience. So why were the senators more than willing to appoint Barrett, but so quick to give  Jackson such a difficult time? The explanation is simply black and white; these Republican senators wanted to do everything in their power to prevent a Black woman from sitting on the Supreme Court. For example, Ted Cruz wasted no time berating Jackson — asking inane questions about whether he could be a “temporary Asian” and criticizing her over the teaching of critical race theory.

While Jackson does receive an undeserved amount of criticism, she also has an abundance of supporters in her corner that are ready to watch her thrive in her new position — among these supporters is U.S. Senator Cory Booker. 

During Jackson’s questioning, Booker took a moment to recognize and praise her journey as a Black politician by quoting late Texas Governor Ann Richards: “She did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.”

A Los Angeles Times editorial shed more light on the content of Booker’s statement.

“It was clear what Booker meant: Jackson got where she is by being twice as smart, twice as determined, twice as hard-working and twice as tolerant as any number of white men who served on the court during an era — the majority of the nation’s existence — when neither Black people nor women were permitted to dedicate their lives and intellect to the law. That’s the caliber of person the Senate is now being asked to confirm to the Supreme Court. So for the nation’s sake, let’s get on with it,” said the Los Angeles Times. 

As we move forward with the process of appointing a Supreme Court Justice, it is imperative that we base our judgments on qualification rather than race or gender. Ketanji Brown Jackson is more than qualified to uphold the duties required of a Supreme Court Justice and the prejudices of certain representatives shouldn’t stand in the way of her doing so.