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WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Faith Leaders Applaud President Biden's Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson

February 26, 2022

Yesterday, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, one of our nation's brightest legal minds, as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. President Biden sought a candidate with exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law. Judge Jackson formerly clerked for Justice Breyer, and has broad experience across the legal profession – as a federal appellate judge, a federal district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an attorney in private practice, and as a federal public defender. She has been confirmed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis three times – most recently last year for her current seat. If confirmed, Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

A broad range of faith-based organizations issued statements applauding her qualifications and acknowledging her historic nomination.

See below for what they are saying:

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Convener, National African American Clergy Network: "Thank you @POTUS! Judge Brown will shift the spirit and rulings of the Supreme Court toward justice on vital issues like voting rights! @coalitionbuildr" [Tweet, 2/25/22]

Bishop Vashti McKenzie, AME Church: "This is an incredible moment in the history of our nation. Diversity and inclusion must never be left to chance. It must be intentional which makes this a bittersweet moment. You shouldn't have to be that intentional to get our qualified best legal minds on the Supreme Court bench." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Rev. Fred Davie, Senior Advisor, Union Theological Seminary: "@POTUS will advance for appointment a candidate with exceptional credentials, unimpeachable character, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law. Like many Black professionals in the US, her faith is sustenance for the journey. #BlackInterfaith" [Tweet, 2/25/22]

Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life: "I commend President Biden for the historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Everyone, no matter our race, faith or zip code, deserves equal justice under the law. Confirming Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman Supreme Court Justice will uphold these principles. Her nomination is a long overdue step toward a court that honors and reflects the dignity of all – including those who have been oppressed rather than protected by the law throughout our nation's history. All too often in recent years, the Court has diluted rather than defended Americans' equal dignity and equal protections. Americans of all faiths and no faith need a Court that will uphold our imperiled freedom to vote, our access to reproductive care, and our equality under the law. With her experience as a public defender and a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, I have no doubt that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will defend these freedoms for our generation and generations to come." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Sheila Katz, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women: "National Council of Jewish Women worked in support of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation in June 2021 to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, widely considered the second highest court in the country, when she became the first Black woman confirmed to an appellate court in a decade. Women — and especially women of color — have long been underrepresented on the federal bench, and there has never been a Black woman on the Supreme Court. Our nation's highest court should reflect the people it serves. Having diverse experiences and perspectives on the bench allows justices to make better informed decisions, in addition to increasing public confidence in their rulings. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is immensely qualified, fair and independent, and has demonstrated a deep commitment to protecting civil rights and ensuring equal access to justice throughout her career. During her tenure as a judge on the United States District Court for the District of DC, Jackson supported workers' rights, accessibility measures for people with disabilities, and funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs. She previously served as a vice chair and commissioner on the US Sentencing Commission, and as a federal public defender. As a former clerk to the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, it is especially fitting that Judge Jackson would be named to fill Justice Breyer's seat, carrying out his legacy of protecting and advancing our most cherished rights and freedoms." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Sumayyah Waheed, Senior Policy Counsel, Muslim Advocates: "The nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court is a watershed moment for Black women, including Black Muslim women, who could soon see the first Black woman serve on the highest court in the land. This nomination is also a major victory in the fight to ensure equal justice for all people. If confirmed, Judge Jackson would make history by becoming not only the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court but also the first ever former public defender to do so. For far too long, Black women and also people who chose to defend the powerless have been severely underrepresented in our judiciary. The combination of racial diversity and professional diversity that Judge Jackson possesses is exactly what we need to make our judicial system more just. In particular, we want to laud Judge Jackson for her public defense work on behalf of people detained at Guantánamo Bay. For decades now, the government and law enforcement have trampled on the rights of Muslims—spying on us, arresting us, profiling us, putting us on discriminatory watchlists and even banning us. Judge Jackson's unique experience as a former public defender is needed on the Supreme Court to turn back this tide of state-sanctioned discrimination and move us to our founding ideals of equal justice for all. We thank President Biden for making this historic nomination and also thank Justice Breyer for his years of valuable service. We also must acknowledge that our judiciary is in crisis and the Supreme Court in particular is poised to roll back many bedrock civil rights protections. We hope Judge Jackson's nomination will serve as one important step of many to drastically reorient the Supreme Court towards protecting the rights of all instead of the few." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism: "Today is a historic moment as @POTUS delivers on his promise to nominate the nation's 1st Black Woman Supreme Court justice. I am looking forward to learning about Ketanji Brown Jackson's record & having a Supreme Court that better reflects the people it serves #JusticeForAll" [Tweet, 2/25/22]

National Council of Churches: ""The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) commends President Joseph Biden's nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States. We affirm her well-rounded qualifications and professional legal experience and denounce the overtly racist and sexist commentary that has infiltrated the public square and sought to debase this process and reject our Beloved Community.

Since 2018 when the NCC began the A.C.T. Now to End Racism initiative, we have been committed to eradicating the entrenched racism that grips the United States and paralyzes our ability to see every human being as equal. Since the formation of the Supreme Court in 1790, there has never been a Black woman on the court. In order to have equal justice for all, the court must reflect the diversity of our nation. This historic nomination is a long overdue step toward that goal. We recognize the nomination of a justice with undeniable credentials, who has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after graduating with honors from Harvard College and Harvard Law School where she was an editor on the law review, clerking for three federal judges, and serving as a federal trial court judge. As Christians centered on the love of God for all, we proclaim the necessity of having a justice with a proven record of protecting the rights of everyone, no matter their race, religion, class, immigration status, or any other ways they might be marginalized, which Judge Brown Jackson did as a public defender when she represented indigent criminal defendants. We celebrate that her background means that she will bring a different lens to the judiciary. The NCC has long worked to end the mass incarceration crisis, reform sentencing guidelines, and transform the nation's criminal legal system, as it is deeply rooted in racism. We commend Judge Brown Jackson's service as vice chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission when it sought to reduce the penalties for crack cocaine that were 100 times more severe than for powder cocaine, which was an NCC priority at the time. The NCC holds that diversity on our benches is a necessity because it increases the trust we have in our courts and ensures everyone is represented in judicial decision-making. As the NCC works toward the advancement of civil rights, expanded health care access, and the protection of our voting rights, we support every justice who elevates these basic human rights. We pray for each senator to put partisan politics aside and vote for justice for all. May our nation use this opportunity to embrace and celebrate our diversity as we strive to be the Beloved Community we envision." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Jamie L. Manson, President, Catholics for Choice: "Catholics for Choice welcomes President Biden's historic nomination of U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as the 104th associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. Judge Jackson expressed a clear and firm commitment to the principle that true religious liberty involves both freedom of and freedom from religion, and her rulings in favor of unions, environmental protections, and reproductive justice, along with her experience working as a public defender, align with the Catholic social justice values of human dignity, uplifting the poor, and responsible stewardship of the earth. As the Senate considers this nominee, we call on senators to evaluate her based on her commitment to three criteria: Will she uphold the First Amendment's protection of freedom of – and freedom from – religion? Will she safeguard the constitutional rights of equal protection, dignity, and privacy protected by the Fourteenth Amendment? Will she be committed to advancing justice, civil rights, equal rights, and individual liberties for all? Catholics for Choice urges the Senate, especially the 25 members who are Catholic, to move with all deliberate speed in this confirmation process. Our fundamental rights depend on it." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Fran Eskin-Royer, Executive Director, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd: "The impact of President Biden's nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court cannot be underestimated for those living on the margins and whose voices often are ignored, if even heard at all. The National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd welcomes with great expectation Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination, who is exquisitely qualified and who will expand the lived experiences of the Court. Through our work and the ministries of our Sisters and social service programs, we recognize the importance of having a Supreme Court that better reflects the diversity of our country, especially one that includes the voice of a Black woman." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Mary J. Novak, Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and Joan F. Neal, Deputy Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice: "Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's historic nomination to the United States Supreme Court is critical for this generation and generations to come. The NETWORK community of Spirit-filled justice-seekers celebrates Judge Jackson's nomination and the perspective she will bring to the highest court because of her years of service on the federal district court of D.C. and D.C. Circuit as well as her formative service as a public defender. In our democracy, it is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to safeguard and uphold the God-given dignity of everyone, no matter their race, origin, religion, or immigration status, in every situation, whether at the ballot box, at work, in their home or in the community. We are confident Judge Jackson's proven record of protecting the rights of everyone can only enrich judicial decision making on the highest court. NETWORK praises Judge Jackson's nomination and calls on the Senate to move this historic nomination process forward with all deliberate speed." [Statement, 2/25/22]

The Rev. Nathan Empsall, Executive Director, Faithful America: "President Biden's decision to nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, an eminently qualified Black woman and former public defender, to our nation's highest court is a proud moment for our democracy and an occasion worth celebrating. In the fight for justice, it is essential that underrepresented communities are not only given a voice at the table, but placed in a position to rectify the systemic harm that white supremacy has wrought for centuries. Sadly, even before the nomination of Judge Jackson — one of the country's finest legal minds — was announced, the religious right and its favorite Christian nationalist politicians had already begun to attack the eventual nominee, demonstrating they care less about her outstanding pedigree and more about blocking any Black woman. Christian nationalism is neither Christian nor patriotic, and senators must reject these bad faith attacks that undermine our democracy and instead give Judge Jackson the consideration she deserves." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Rev. Susan Hendershot, President, Interfaith Power and Light: "We cannot effectively care for our planet and advance environmental justice without Supreme Court Justices who will honor equal justice for all, and protect the rights of all of us, especially those living at the margins. It is long past time for a Black woman to take her place on the nation's highest court. Interfaith Power and Light celebrates the historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who values the lived experiences of all people in the United States, and is exceptionally qualified for the job. This nomination reflects our nation's moral journey to becoming a multiracial, multi-faith democracy that represents all of us, not just the wealthy and powerful. Due to discriminatory bias of the current court, our most fundamental freedoms are under threat, including sacred voting rights protections and our environment. We need a Supreme Court that looks more like America and serves ALL in America." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Rev. Katey Zeh, CEO, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice: "The nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court is a historic moment. Throughout her career as a public servant and federal judge, she has upheld the values that the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice considers most sacred: justice, fairness, freedom, and dignity. We applaud President Biden's choice of Judge Brown as the first Black woman to serve on the nation's highest court, and we call on senators to conduct a respectful and fair confirmation process." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, President, Sojourners: "Sojourners applauds President Biden's nomination of U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as the 104th associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a highly qualified candidate who would both shatter a glass ceiling and strengthen the court's commitment to equal justice under the law. While we've seen the predictable attacks from some voices on the Right, it's important to point out that having a Black woman on the Supreme Court will have profound moral and practical significance to the United States. Representation matters, and when people become historic "firsts" to occupy prominent positions in society, it changes what future generations of children see as possible. A Black woman on the Supreme Court will bring important experience to the country's highest bench, experience that matters because of the myriad ways the U.S. criminal justice system continues to disproportionately punish and criminalize Black people. People's lived experiences are strongly affected by the communities in which they are raised and by how those communities treat people across lines of difference, and her connection to the people and the issues they face makes her an even stronger candidate." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Dr. Robert Taber, National Director, Latter-day Saints for Biden-Harris: "We are delighted by President Biden's nomination of Judge Katanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Judge Jackson brings with her top-flight credentials, including two degrees from Harvard University, time as a public defender, and over eight years of experience on the federal bench, more than four current justices at the time of their nomination combined. At her first judicial confirmation she was introduced by Republican Paul Ryan, who stated, 'Our politics may differ, but my praise for Kentanji's intellect, for her character, for her integrity, it is unequivocal.' The Senate confirmed her with a full voice vote. Prior to her time as a federal judge, Jackson worked on the US Sentencing Commission to make convictions more fair. She has been a vigorous defender of the rule of the law and of the Constitutional principles that undergird our republic, including her statement that 'presidents are not kings.' This nomination is a historic one, both because Judge Jackson will be the first Black woman, and only the third African American and sixth woman, to serve as a Justice in the Court's 230-year history, and because of the experience she brings to the bench as a public high school graduate and as a public defender who has worked on fair sentencing at the highest levels. The Supreme Court is not without its problems, as it has never grown to match our number of Appeals courts, too many decisions are made through the so-called "shadow docket," and lifetime tenure has intensified the partisan games surrounding certain appointments. The confirmation of Judge Jackson, however, who trained under Justice Breyer, will bring the Court someone who will make an immediate positive contribution for everyday Americans from all walks of life. We call on the Senate for a speedy confirmation." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Michael Vazquez, Public Theologian and Faith Organizer: "The historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court calls for a moment of immense celebration. In a moment in our nation's history where democracy is in peril and the right is only doubling down on its efforts to exclude and further marginalize communities of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, religious minorities and other historically oppressed communities, President Biden's nomination of Judge Jackson, a staunch defender of civil rights and of our most fundamental democratic principles, to be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, represents a comprehensive commitment not only to campaign promises, but to the common good and the future of our democracy. I applaud the administration and look forward to a speedy and unhindered confirmation process." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Felice Gorordo, CEO, eMerge Americas: "Tremendous #Miami hometown pride with the #SCOTUS nomination of Judge #KetanjiBrownJackson! Great pick @POTUS!" [Tweet, 2/25/22]

Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie, United Church of Christ: "Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a terrific choice for the U.S. Supreme Court. She'll be a justice committed to democracy and the right to vote. We need her voice on #SCOTUS. Judge Jackson's nomination should receive swift approval from the U.S. Senate." [Tweet, 2/25/22]

Autumn VandeHei, MTS Candidate, Wesley Theological Seminary: "Excellent choice
@POTUS. By all accounts a wonderful person in addition to her wealth of experience and legal prowess. So happy she's worked as a public defender. Has any other Supreme Court Justice? Not sure, but she may be the first. #KetanjiBrownJackson" [Tweet, 2/25/22]

Dorian Karp, Advocacy and Policy Director, Jewish Women International: "Today President Biden announced the historic nomination of D.C Circuit Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States. She is an exceptional candidate with outstanding credentials and deep experience as a federal judge and public defender. Judge Jackson clearly exemplifies the attributes needed to sit on the highest court of the land. As a former clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer, there is no one better to continue his legacy of championing women's rights. Jewish Women International urges the Senate to act with decisiveness and to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court in a fair and timely manner." [Statement, 2/25/22]

New York Jewish Agenda: "Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's career is the very embodiment of NYJA's core values: dignity, responsibility, equality and justice. She will bring these values and her brilliance, stellar qualifications & sound judicial temperament to the Supreme Court. #ConfirmJackson." [Tweet, 2/25/22]

Halie Soifer, CEO, Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA): The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) enthusiastically welcomes President Biden's historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. "We applaud President Biden's historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice. If confirmed, Judge Jackson will not only serve as the first Black woman, but also the first former public defender to sit on the Supreme Court. The nomination of a Black woman to our country's highest court is long overdue, and we congratulate President Biden for honoring his important commitment made two years ago today to ensure the Supreme Court reflects the diverse fabric of America. Judge Jackson possesses the experience and qualifications to fill this critical seat. A former clerk for Justice Breyer, Judge Jackson is eminently qualified to continue his legacy given her experience as a federal appellate judge, a federal district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an attorney in private practice, and as a federal public defender. On three different occasions, Judge Jackson has been confirmed by the Senate with votes from both sides of the aisle. At this critical juncture, we strongly urge both Democrats and Republicans to support her nomination and urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Judge Jackson. Over the next few months, the Supreme Court is expected to hear cases that could strip away abortion access, Voting Rights Act protections, affirmative action, and more. While the addition of Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court will not change its conservative majority, we are confident that she will consistently defend our civil rights and Jewish values so proudly represented by Justice Breyer and the late Justice Ginsburg. We are calling on Jewish voters around the country to join us in urging their senators to support Judge Jackson's nomination. [Statement, 2/25/22]

Mark Mellman, President, Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI): "With the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson today, President Biden has made good on his promise to nominate an extraordinary jurist who is committed to equal justice under the law. Judge Brown Jackson is an inspired choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Breyer, for whom she clerked over twenty years ago. Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson will undoubtedly continue Justice Breyer's legacy of justice, fairness, and equality for every American under the law. In addition to her distinguished credentials and exceptional qualifications, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson would be the first Black woman on the United States Supreme Court and the first former federal public defender to serve as a Supreme Court justice. We applaud President Biden for his selection of Judge Brown Jackson, and we urge the Senate to swiftly confirm this outstanding Supreme Court nominee." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Jason Kimelman-Block, Washington Director, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action: "Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination by President Biden is a historic and long-overdue step toward building a government that represents all of its people. Judge Jackson would be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court as well as the first federal public defender, bringing exceptional credentials and a strong voice for protecting the rights of all to our nation's highest court. Her record with the U.S. Sentencing Commission helped reduce unjust sentencing disparities, and ensured that federal sentences were just and proportionate. We applaud President Biden's decision, and urge the Senate to move swiftly to confirm Judge Jackson." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Pablo de Jesus, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice: ""The noblest calling of our highest court is to uphold equal justice, freedom, and dignity for all. And we believe Judge Jackson can deliver on that commitment. Our faith tradition teaches we have a moral interest to ensure Justices on the high court are committed to equality under the law and will defend the inherent worth and dignity of all people. This nomination is an important step in our nation's long time, too often slow journey to becoming a multiracial, multi-faith democracy that represents all of us. It is a leap towards the national beloved community so many Americans desire. Once again, helping to ensure that the highest court is composed of diverse backgrounds, and informed by the lived experience of real people, not just a wealthy few. Unfortunately, the current and politicized court has gutted the Voting Rights Act, enabling a flood of extremist anti-voting laws targeting Black and Brown voters. Women are watching, with Texas in mind, forecasting similar assaults for their right to choice, privacy, and dominion over their bodies. Until we can unspool the discriminatory bias of the current court, the most fundamental freedoms we cherish are under persistent threat. We are deeply gratified by the choice of Judge Jackson and feel it reflects Unitarian Universalist values. We entreat the spirit of love, the sacred, to speed her confirmation." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Joseph R. Biden, WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Faith Leaders Applaud President Biden's Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/354641

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