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Sunday, April 10, 2022


The 116th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ketanji Brown Jackson flanked by President Biden and VP Harris

GUEST BLOG / By Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner
--It is official. There is a new justice on the United States Supreme Court, and a justice unlike any in our nation’s history. Despite all the problems this nation faces, despite the sordidness of the confirmation process, despite the rank hypocrisy, bombast, and lies Republican senators and their media echo chambers employed, let us not allow any of this to distract from a celebration of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and her moment. 

Justice Jackson is not only a symbol, she is a person. And like so many trailblazers before her, she has had to weather attacks on her character, her values, her intelligence, her right to be part of a society still plagued by the legacy of centuries of oppression and injustice. 

If ever there were a live demonstration of judicial temperament, it was Justice Jackson’s testimony in her confirmation hearings. She was in a position known all too well to marginalized segments of American society, particularly Black women. 

She had to be better, do better, be more poised, absorb more outrage, and bite her tongue while those with privilege are given benefits of doubt she will never be offered and allowed to act in ways that never would have been tolerated from her. 

Indeed, we have seen exactly this double standard in recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings. 

Justice Jackson persevered. 

And she did so in a way that should give us confidence as to what kind of justice she will be. In a court that has been highly politicized by the actions of Republicans in the Senate and the White House, her voice will represent a very different perspective: an America of diversity, of obstacles and opportunity, of the rule of law, of humility, and of justice broadly defined. 

Every Supreme Court justice represents to some extent a leap into the unknown. But recently, we have seen the entire judicial system increasingly become a competition between teams of judges whose actions are highly predictable. This is regrettable. 

The act of judgment should be one of listening, reading, and weighing the arguments. Everything we saw from Justice Jackson suggests she will embrace this role. Even with the addition of Justice Jackson, we will still have a Supreme Court out of balance. It tilts heavily toward a far-right worldview that, if the polling is to be believed, is out of step with the majority of the American public. 

As much as the Republicans tried to undermine Justice Jackson with epithets of being an extremist, it is they who I believe history will judge as out of touch with the heart of this nation, and especially its future. 

Now, going forward, Justice Jackson will bring a new voice to those marbled halls, one who can bear witness to what this nation is, and where it is going. Her presence itself will not fix the myriad problems we face; our challenges defy easy answers or simple remedies. 

But Justice Jackson personifies the hope that change is possible, that progress can be our path going forward. We celebrate her today as a unique legal mind and as someone whose service to this nation and its best traditions can give us a reason for new flickers of optimism. If she hasn’t given up on what America can be, then neither should we.  

Dan Rather (left)
and Elliot Kirschner

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