Ketanji Brown Jackson, Biden’s Historic Supreme Court Nominee, Has South Florida Ties


Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP

By Giselle Balido

February 25, 2022

Only two Black men and one Latina have served on the highest court in the land.

With the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court, President Joe Biden has fulfilled his campaign promise of appointing a Black woman to an open seat on the highest court in the land. Only two Black men—Justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas —and one Latina, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, have served on the court.

Jackson, 51, was on President Barack Obama’s short list for a Supreme Court pick in 2016 after Justice Antonin Scalia died that year, but, ultimately, Judge Merrick Garland was nominated.

She currently serves on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and has been lavishly praised by Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, for her “fairness, impartiality, even handedness, and an unyielding fidelity to the law.” Jackson has even been lauded by those on the other side of the aisle. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan has praised her for “her intellect, her character [and] her integrity.”

South Florida Ties

A Washington, DC native, Jackson’s parents were schoolteachers, and she grew up in South Florida, where she graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School. Other notable alumni include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and two-time US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

Jackson has said her debate experience at Palmetto, where she honed her reasoning and writing skills, gave her “the self-confidence that can sometimes be quite difficult for women and minorities to develop at an early age.” In fact, in the 1988 Palmetto High yearbook, Jackson wrote: “I want to go into law and eventually have a judicial appointment.”

Jackson eventually graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and earned a cum laude distinction.

Her father, Johnny Brown, later became an attorney for the Miami-Dade School Board, and her mother, Ellery Brown, became the principal at New World School of the Arts, a public high school with a magnet program.

After law school, Jackson worked in a private practice and as a public defender. She was confirmed by Congress in 2009 to serve as vice chair of the US Sentencing Commission from 2010 to 2014.

Married to Patrick Jackson, a surgeon she met at Harvard, she shares family ties with Paul Ryan. Her husband’s twin is Ryan’s brother-in-law. The couple have two daughters, Talia and Leila.

Valuable Experience

“I’ve experienced life in perhaps a different way than some of my colleagues because of who I am, and that might be valuable,” Jackson said in her Senate hearing last year. “I hope it would be valuable if I was confirmed to the circuit court.”

If confirmed to the Supreme Court, she will use her experience to, as she says, “bring value” to the process.


  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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