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Who is Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson? 5 things to know

Jackson would become the first Black woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court if she is confirmed.

Ketanji Brown Jackson is now one big step away from making history after being announced by President Joe Biden as his nominee for the Supreme Court on Friday.

Who is Ketanji Brown Jackson?

Jackson, 51, would become the first Black woman in history to serve on the nation's highest court if she is confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the replacement for retired Justice Stephen Breyer.

Biden called Jackson "one of our nation’s brightest legal minds" and said she "will be an exceptional Justice" in a tweet on Friday.

Here are five facts to know about Ketanji Brown Jackson ahead of her confirmation hearings:

She has been a judge since 2013

Jackson worked as an attorney in private practice and as a federal public defender before serving in multiple positions for the U.S. Sentencing Commission. She was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as a federal judge in 2012, and she was confirmed in 2013.

She served eight years as a federal trial judge in the U.S. District court for the District of Columbia. Jackson was then confirmed as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in June of last year after being nominated by Biden.

If confirmed, she would be the second-youngest judge on the court behind Amy Coney Barrett, 50, and the first since Thurgood Marshall in the 1960s to have previously worked for a notable time as a defense attorney. None of the current justices ever represented defendants in a criminal trial or served as public defenders.

She's a Harvard University graduate

Jackson graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1996 after earning her undergraduate degree at Harvard in 1992. She was supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review during her time in law school.

Seven of the eight current members of the Supreme Court graduated from either Harvard or Yale. Barrett, who earned her law degree at Notre Dame, is the only non-Ivy Leaguer.

Jackson also met her husband, surgeon Patrick Jackson, while the two were attending Harvard. They have two daughters, Talia and Leila.

Her top cases as a federal judge include rulings involving the Trump administration

Her most high-profile ruling during her time as a federal trial judge came in 2019 when she ruled that former White House counsel Don McGahn had to obey a subpoena to testify before Congress.

Jackson said in her ruling that "absolute absolute immunity from compelled congressional process simply does not exist" after Justice Department lawyers had argued that McGahn could not be forced to testify because he was a close adviser to former President Donald Trump.

“The primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that presidents are not kings,” Jackson said in her ruling.

In her short time as a circuit judge, she was part of a three-judge panel in December that rejected Trump's bid to block his White House records from being released to the congressional committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

She's related to former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan by marriage

The twin brother of Jackson's husband is the brother-in-law of Ryan, the retired Republican who served as Speaker of the house from 2015 to 2019.

Ryan spoke on Jackson's behalf in 2012 when she was nominated to become a federal judge.

“Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character, for her integrity, is unequivocal. She is an amazing person,” Ryan said, according to NBC News.

She went to the same high school as Jeff Bezos and Vivek Murthy

Jackson grew up in Miami and graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School, whose alumni include Bezos, the founder of Amazon, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and a host of successful athletes like Dallas Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and Olympic speedskating medalist Jennifer Rodriguez.

Jackson's father was an attorney and her mother was a principal of a public school in Miami when she was growing up.