Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, released the following statement after the final Senate floor vote (53-47) to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as an associate justice to the Supreme Court of the United States. She will be the first Black woman, and former public defender, to sit on the nation’s highest court.
Human Rights Campaign Interim President Joni Madison issued the following statement.
“Today is joyful—welcome to the Court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Today, a brilliant, empathetic, imminently qualified woman of integrity was confirmed to a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. After 115 prior justices have been appointed, a Black woman finally has the opportunity to serve—and it's about time.
This moment is powerful, meaningful, and long overdue. There is no question that soon-to-be Justice Jackson will be a fierce defender, champion and ally to marginalized communities, including the LGBTQ+ community, who are at-risk of having their rights watered down or stripped from them by the Court’s conservative majority. We have a long road ahead of us, and a lot of work to do, but today’s victory reminds us all why the fight is worth it.”
Last month, HRC issued a report that details Jackson’s record as a judge and past statements on a range of civil rights and constitutional issues, and how those would likely inform her work as a Supreme Court Justice. While Judge Jackson's docket has not touched directly upon issues of LGBTQ+ rights, in other public remarks, she has highlighted the historical connections between LGBTQ+ rights and civil rights for other marginalized groups and rightly framed the Obergefell decision on marriage equality alongside Supreme Court precedents about constitutional protections involving privacy and interracial marriage. For the reasons outlined, HRC proudly supports Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jackson graduated from Harvard University and later attended Harvard Law School, where she was a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. She clerked for three federal judges (including Justice Breyer), worked in private practice, and served both on the United States Sentencing Commission and as a federal public defender in Washington, D.C. In 2013, the United States Senate confirmed her to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia until she was again confirmed and elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2021. Now, she is the first Black woman to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, adding significant racial, gender and professional diversity to our nation’s highest court.
The decisions made by the Supreme Court have established important legal precedents that impact the daily lives of all Americans. Over the past three decades, the LGBTQ+ community has benefited from several groundbreaking decisions from the Court, including Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas, U.S. v. Windsor, Obergefell v. Hodges and Bostock v. Clayton County. During that same period, the Court also handed down a number of rulings that are deeply problematic for civil rights and the public interest, for example, curtailing reproductive freedom and voting rights, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Shelby County v. Holder, respectively. Notably, many of these rulings – both positive and negative – were decided by razor-thin margins, highlighting the importance and magnitude of the responsibility handed to each individual justice.