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Ketanji Brown Jackson

Ketanji Brown Jackson (born September 1970) is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In 2016, she was reportedly interviewed as one of Barack Obama's potential nominees for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia.[1][2][3][4]

Ketanji Brown Jackson
10.18.2019, Ketanji Jackson.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Assumed office
March 26, 2013
Appointed byBarack Obama
Preceded byHenry H. Kennedy Jr.
Personal details
Ketanji Onyika Brown

September 1970 (age 49)
Washington, D.C.
EducationHarvard University (B.A.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)

Early life and educationEdit

Jackson (née Brown) was born in Washington, D.C.[5] Her parents, Johnny and Ellery Brown,[6] are an attorney and retired school principal, respectively.[7] Jackson graduated from Miami Palmetto High School in 1988.[8] Her parents still reside in Miami. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in government in 1992 from Harvard University and a Juris Doctor degree cum laude in 1996 from Harvard Law School,[5] where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.[9] Jackson has served as a law clerk for three federal judges, including U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts Judge Patti B. Saris and U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit Judge Bruce M. Selya. She clerked for Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1999 until 2000.[5][10]

Early legal careerEdit

Jackson worked in private legal practice from 1998 until 1999 and again from 2000 until 2003.[11] From 2003 until 2005, she remained in private practice as an attorney at the Feinberg Group law firm,[5] and she also served as an assistant special counsel to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.[11] From 2005 until 2007, Jackson served as an assistant federal public defender in the District of Columbia.[11] From 2007 to 2010, Jackson worked at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster.[11][10]

Appointment to the United States Sentencing CommissionEdit

Jackson's official District Court photo.

On July 23, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Jackson to become Vice Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.[12] The United States Senate confirmed Jackson by unanimous consent on February 11, 2010. She succeeded Michael Horowitz, who served from 2003 until 2009. Jackson served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission until 2014.[13][10]

District Court serviceEdit

On September 20, 2012, President Obama nominated Jackson to serve as a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to the seat vacated by Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. who retired on November 18, 2011.[14] On January 2, 2013, her nomination was returned to the President, due to the sine die adjournment of the Senate. On January 3, 2013, she was renominated to the same office. On February 14, 2013, her nomination was reported to the full Senate by voice vote of the Senate Judiciary Committee.[15] She was confirmed by voice vote on the legislative day of March 22, 2013. She received her commission on March 26, 2013.[10]

Notable rulingsEdit

On November 25, 2019, Jackson issued an important ruling in Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives v. McGahn, a case in which the Committee on the Judiciary sued Don McGahn, former White House Counsel for the Trump administration, to compel him to comply with the Committee's subpoena to appear at a hearing on its impeachment inquiry about issues of alleged obstruction of justice by the Trump administration. McGahn declined to comply with the subpoena after President Trump, relying on a legal theory of executive testimonial immunity from the Obama era, ordered McGahn not to testify. In a lengthy opinion, Jackson ruled in favor of the House Committee, holding that senior-level presidential aides "who have been subpoenaed for testimony by an authorized committee of Congress must appear for testimony in response to that subpoena," even if the President orders them not to.[16] Jackson rejected the Trump administration's assertion of executive testimonial immunity, holding that "with respect to senior-level presidential aides, absolute immunity from compelled congressional process simply does not exist."[17] According to Jackson, this conclusion was "inescapable precisely because compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and per the Constitution, no one is above the law."[18][19][20] The ruling has been appealed by the Department of Justice.[21]

Possible appointment to the U.S. Supreme CourtEdit

On February 26, 2016, the National Law Journal reported that Obama administration officials were vetting Jackson as a potential nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Barack Obama.[22] In March 2016, the Washington Post[23] and the Associated Press[24] confirmed that information, and Reuters reported that Jackson was one of five candidates interviewed as a potential nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy.[25]


In 1996, Jackson married surgeon Patrick G. Jackson.[26] They have two daughters. Jackson is related by marriage to former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan.[26][27] Her husband is the twin brother of Ryan's brother-in-law.[27]


  1. ^ Hennessey, Kathleen (March 9, 2016). "Obama signals Supreme Court announcement could come soon". Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  2. ^ "Source: D.C. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Vetted for Scalia Seat". National Law Journal. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  3. ^ Davis, Julie Hirschfeld (2016-03-04). "Three More Judges Said to Be Vetted for Supreme Court". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  4. ^ "White House Holding Interviews With Five Potential Supreme Court Justice Nominees | VICE News". VICE News. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  5. ^ a b c d "Questionnaire for judicial nominees" (PDF). United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Influential Supreme Court expert is floating a new candidate to fill Scalia's seat".
  8. ^ Brecher, Elinor J. (August 7, 2008). "Dedicated debate legend was an 'unforgettable hero'". Miami Herald. p. 4.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c d "Jackson, Ketanji Brown – Federal Judicial Center".
  11. ^ a b c d "President Obama Nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson to US Sentencing Commission".
  12. ^ "Obama Taps Another MoFo Lawyer".
  13. ^ "Former Commissioner Information".
  14. ^ "President Obama Nominates Two to the United States District Courts". 20 September 2012.
  15. ^ "President Obama Re-nominates Thirty-Three to Federal Judgeships". 3 January 2013.
  16. ^ Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives v. McGahn, No. 19-cv-2379 (KBJ), Slip Op. at 116 (Nov. 25, 2019), available at
  17. ^ Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives v. McGahn, No. 19-cv-2379 (KBJ), Slip Op. at 115 (Nov. 25, 2019), available at
  18. ^ Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives v. McGahn, No. 19-cv-2379 (KBJ), Slip Op. at 115 (Nov. 25, 2019), available at
  19. '^ No One Is Above the Law': Judge Says Donald McGahn Must Comply With House Subpoena for His Testimony, by Jacqueline Thomsen,, November 25, 2019.
  20. ^ Samuelsohn, Darren; Cheney, Kyle; Desiderio, Andrew (2019-11-25). "Don McGahn must testify about time as White House lawyer, judge rules". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Source: D.C. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Vetted for Scalia Seat".
  23. ^ "Here are judges the White House is considering for the Supreme Court". Washington Post. March 7, 2016.
  24. ^ "Possible Supreme Court pick would make history in many ways". AP News. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
  25. ^ "White House interviewing five potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees: source". Reuters. 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
  26. ^ a b Goldstein, Tom (February 16, 2016). "Continued thoughts on the next nominee (and impressions of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson)". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  27. ^ a b "This Potential Supreme Court Nominee Is Family to House Speaker Paul Ryan". ABC News. February 26, 2016.

External linksEdit