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

February 26, 2022

Yesterday, President BIden announced his intent to nominate Judge Kentanji 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.

Labor leaders issued statements applauding her qualifications and acknowledging her historic nomination.

Here's what they are saying:

Liz Shuler, President, AFL-CIO: "We applaud the historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Jackson has had a distinguished legal career, and she is eminently qualified for this critical lifetime position. Working people need a champion on the bench who will defend and protect our civil rights, including our right to organize in the workplace. Judge Jackson has a strong legal track record of fighting on behalf of working people, including during her tenure as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C., and we are confident that she will bring that leadership to the highest court in the land. Representation matters and that is especially true in our nation's legal system, which can disproportionately impact or lift up Black and Brown communities. Today's nomination aligns with President Biden's ongoing efforts to diversify the roster of individuals who are nominated and confirmed for the judiciary. Being the first is never easy and Judge Jackson is doing what so many women have done before her, breaking barriers to ensure that she is not the last. We call on the U.S. Senate to deliver a speedy and fair confirmation process." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Lee Saunders, President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees: "Representation matters. There have been 115 Supreme Court justices in the nation's history, and not a single one has been an African American woman. The nation's highest court must reflect the backgrounds and experiences of all the people whose lives will be affected by its decisions. President Joe Biden's nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson corrects a historic injustice and makes a bold statement about the power of inclusion.

"Working people have gotten a raw deal from the Supreme Court in recent years. The court has been part of a rigged system that has silenced our voices, rolling back our rights and freedoms while putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the super-wealthy and large corporations. At a moment when we must empower workers, making it easier to organize and stand together in strong unions, it is critical that the next Supreme Court justice interpret the law accordingly.

"Judge Jackson has a deep commitment to public service as the daughter of two public school f and the niece of two uncles who served in law enforcement. As a public defender and during her time on the federal bench, Judge Jackson has built an extensive record of protecting the rights and freedoms of all people, including working people.

"This includes issuing a 2018 ruling blocking an attempt by the Trump administration to decimate the collective bargaining rights of federal employees. As a consensus builder, just a few weeks ago, Judge Jackson authored a unanimous D.C. Circuit opinion overruling a new, heightened standard for federal employees that was improperly adopted and severely limited their collective bargaining rights.

"Judge Jackson is a brilliant, fair-minded jurist committed to advancing civil rights and protecting equal justice under the law. Her lived experience and professional background reflect the nation's diversity and show a deep understanding of the challenges facing everyday working families. She is uniquely qualified to serve on the highest court in the land, and we urge the Senate to move quickly on her nomination." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers: "The work of the Supreme Court impacts all of our daily lives. In nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the bench, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have chosen an experienced, exceptionally qualified jurist who is devoted to the rule of law, the Constitution, and our country's rich history of democracy and freedom. Her life story is the story of America.

"During her 8 1/2 years as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Jackson presided over civil and criminal trials. She wrote nearly 600 opinions and was rated 'unanimously qualified' for the nomination by the American Bar Association(link is external). Judge Jackson has demonstrated an impressive judicial record and a particular understanding of the laws affecting working people. As the daughter of Florida public school teachers, a proud public school graduate and a former law clerk of Justice Stephen Breyer, Judge Jackson is uniquely qualified to serve on the bench and has been confirmed by the Senate several times already. She has deep experience across the judicial system: She comes from a family of police officers, worked as a public defender, and has been called 'an unwavering voice for justice and fairness.' We need justices on the Supreme Court who have a demonstrated commitment to equal justice under the law and who will ensure that our rights are protected, and Judge Jackson's judicial record upholds that ideal.

"Our country is eager for a Supreme Court justice who will not pick and choose whose rights they care about—a justice who will put justice first. Progress does not always move quickly, but with this nomination, we take an important step forward in building a court that looks more like America and serves us all." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Lonnie Stephenson, president, IBEW: "The IBEW and its 775,000 members congratulate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on her historic nomination to the Supreme Court. As the first African American woman nominated to the highest court in the land, Judge Jackson is breaking barriers and giving a voice to an entire generation of Americans. Judge Jackson has long stood with working people and is one of our nation's brightest legal minds. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Judge Jackson clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer before working as a public defender in Washington, D.C., where she won uncommon victories for her clients. She has served as Vice Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission, as a judge for the United States district court for the District of Columbia, and as a United States circuit court judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. It was in this role that she invalidated a 2020 rule by the Federal Labor Relations Authority that had restricted the bargaining power of federal-sector labor unions. These exceptional credentials, combined with Judge Jackson's unimpeachable character and unwavering dedication to the rule of law, will serve her well as she serves the American people on the highest court in the land. For far too long, the makeup of our nation's highest court has not accurately represented the vast diversity of America's working families. America needs a Supreme Court justice that supports workers' rights and collective bargaining. The IBEW encourages the Senate to quickly confirm Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Ray Curry, President, United Auto Workers: "Today's historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court gives Americans a jurist with broad experience across the legal profession who has a strong understanding of the everyday lives of working families. Judge Jackson played a key role in the U.S. Sentencing Commission on criminal justice reform and showed a keen understanding of the implications of the law on everyday lives. She has been a private Attorney and a public defender and is recognized as one of the bright legal minds of our generation. It matters a great deal who serves on the most powerful court in the land. In recent years the Supreme Court allowed employers to terminate retiree health benefits at the expiration of the collective bargaining agreements and prevented public-sector unions from collecting fees from nonunion members they represent. The United States Senate has confirmed Judge Jackson three previous times and we hope that the Senate will move swiftly on this historic nomination. And working families should sleep well knowing a respected jurist such as Judge Jackson will serve on our Nation's highest court." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union: "SEIU members, Fight for $15 and a Union worker leaders and working people across the nation are excited to back Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination to the Supreme Court. From the infamous Janus decision to the Cedar Point ruling restricting workers' right to organize, we have seen firsthand how important it is to have strong representation on the nation's highest court. Now, with the right to join a union as well as voting rights, reproductive rights and immigrant rights under threat across the country, it is imperative that the Senate move swiftly to confirm the nation's first Black woman justice to the Supreme Court. Judge Jackson's historic nomination is a win for working people, and her impressive legal background, stellar record and reputation for fairness will make her a strong asset to the Court. In her first published opinion on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, she sided with federal workers who argued that their employers must bargain with unions over changes to working conditions. As a former public defender, she has deep experience representing people who are too often denied access to equal justice, a perspective that has been missing from the Supreme Court since Justice Thurgood Marshall retired 30 years ago. Judge Jackson is widely recognized as one of the nation's sharpest legal minds and has already been confirmed by the Senate with bipartisan support three times. Working people across the country will be cheering as she is confirmed for a fourth time. Thanks to President Biden's commitment to increasing racial and professional diversity on the bench, more children of all backgrounds can imagine themselves reaching the highest heights in public service. As the Senate takes up Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's historic nomination, the nation will be watching to make sure she is treated fairly and judged on the strengths of her accomplishments and character — and nothing else." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Becky Pringle, President, National Education Association: "It is long past time for the first Black woman Supreme Court Justice. For people who look like me, for people who come to this country yearning to be free, for people who have far too long been denied the equality and justice that the Constitution promised in its poetry, this nomination means that 'We the People' — all of us — are on the path to a more perfect union. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a brilliant jurist, highly qualified, and has the impeccable credentials to do the job. She is a fair-minded and even-handed jurist who will uphold the law fairly and equally. On the bench, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has demonstrated her understanding of the issues facing working people, public education, and students and their families. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson reflects the very best of the legal profession and the very best of America. The daughter of public-school teachers, a public high school graduate as well as a top law school graduate from Harvard Law School, Judge Brown Jackson has decades of judicial and public service experience including eight years as a Judge on the D.C. District Court and over a year on the D.C. Circuit Court, the most powerful appellate court in the country. Diversity on the federal bench isn't a 'nice to have' — it's a necessity. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will bring a new, much-needed perspective to the Supreme Court. I have no doubt Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will live up to the legacies of Justices Thurgood Marshall and Sandra Day O'Connor and bring us closer to the promise of equal justice for all. With this nomination, President Biden demonstrates his continued commitment to building a government that looks like America, one that will reflect the great diversity of our country, work to unite our country, and build back a better future for all Americans. The 3 million members of the National Education Association urge the Senate to swiftly hold hearings and bring Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the floor for confirmation." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Lee Saunds, President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees: "Representation matters. There have been 115 Supreme Court justices in the nation's history, and not a single one has been an African American woman. The nation's highest court must reflect the backgrounds and experiences of all the people whose lives will be affected by its decisions. President Joe Biden's nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson corrects a historic injustice and makes a bold statement about the power of inclusion. Working people have gotten a raw deal from the Supreme Court in recent years. The court has been part of a rigged system that has silenced our voices, rolling back our rights and freedoms while putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the super-wealthy and large corporations. At a moment when we must empower workers, making it easier to organize and stand together in strong unions, it is critical that the next Supreme Court justice interpret the law accordingly. Judge Jackson has a deep commitment to public service as the daughter of two public school teachers and the niece of two uncles who served in law enforcement. As a public defender and during her time on the federal bench, Judge Jackson has built an extensive record of protecting the rights and freedoms of all people, including working people. This includes issuing a 2018 ruling blocking an attempt by the Trump administration to decimate the collective bargaining rights of federal employees. As a consensus builder, just a few weeks ago, Judge Jackson authored a unanimous D.C. Circuit opinion overruling a new, heightened standard for federal employees that was improperly adopted and severely limited their collective bargaining rights. Judge Jackson is a brilliant, fair-minded jurist committed to advancing civil rights and protecting equal justice under the law. Her lived experience and professional background reflect the nation's diversity and show a deep understanding of the challenges facing everyday working families. She is uniquely qualified to serve on the highest court in the land, and we urge the Senate to move quickly on her nomination." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Everett Kelley, President, American Federation of Government Employees: "We applaud President Biden for nominating Judge Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Her previous work as a public defender, as an advocate for reforming our criminal sentencing laws, and prior judicial rulings show she will affirm the rights of regular American workers and everyday citizens while holding accountable those who break the law – even the most powerful among us. While serving as U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia circuit, Judge Jackson issued a deciding ruling in a lawsuit brought by AFGE and a dozen other unions challenging a set of executive orders issued by the Trump administration that illegally denied workers their right to representation. That single ruling safeguarded federal workers' union rights and demonstrated the limits of a corrupt administration. Her reasoning demonstrated exactly the kind of principled, independent judicial thinking that should be a hallmark of the highest court in our land." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers: "The work of the Supreme Court impacts all of our daily lives. In nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the bench, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have chosen an experienced, exceptionally qualified jurist who is devoted to the rule of law, the Constitution, and our country's rich history of democracy and freedom. Her life story is the story of America. During her 8 1/2 years as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Jackson presided over civil and criminal trials. She wrote nearly 600 opinions and was rated 'unanimously qualified' for the nomination by the American Bar Association(link is external). Judge Jackson has demonstrated an impressive judicial record and a particular understanding of the laws affecting working people. As the daughter of Florida public school teachers, a proud public school graduate and a former law clerk of Justice Stephen Breyer, Judge Jackson is uniquely qualified to serve on the bench and has been confirmed by the Senate several times already. She has deep experience across the judicial system: She comes from a family of police officers, worked as a public defender, and has been called 'an unwavering voice for justice and fairness.' We need justices on the Supreme Court who have a demonstrated commitment to equal justice under the law and who will ensure that our rights are protected, and Judge Jackson's judicial record upholds that ideal. Our country is eager for a Supreme Court justice who will not pick and choose whose rights they care about—a justice who will put justice first. Progress does not always move quickly, but with this nomination, we take an important step forward in building a court that looks more like America and serves us all." [Statement, 2/25/22]

National Education Association: "The 3 million members of the National Education Association urge the Senate to swiftly hold hearings and bring Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the floor for confirmation." [Tweet, 2/25/22]

National Education Association Votes: "With this nomination, President Biden demonstrates his continued commitment to building a government that looks like America, one that will reflect the great diversity of our country, work to unite our country, and build back a better future for all Americans." [Tweet, 2/25/22]

Ron Bieber, President, Michigan AFL-CIO: "President Joe Biden is a true champion of the labor movement, and his historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court further proves that. The highest court in the land needs Justices that will advocate for our country's working families. We need Supreme Court Justices who understand the importance of a union contract, who will defend our right to collectively bargain, and protect our right to organize our workplaces. Judge Jackson has already proven her dedication to working families in the United States during her tenure on the U.S. Court of Appeals and as an assistant federal public defender. The Michigan AFL-CIO is confident that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will use her years of legal experience to fight for working people as our country's next U.S. Supreme Court Justice." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Matthew Biggs, President, IFPTE: "IFPTE joins union members and working families in enthusiastically applauding the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Having served for several years as a federal District judge, followed by her current position on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Brown Jackson is highly qualified to serve on the nation's highest court. As evidenced by her 2018 ruling of the Trump union-busting Executive Orders as illegal, she is a reasoned and thoughtful jurist who makes rulings based on the law, not ideologically biases. IFPTE applauds President Biden for this nomination and the thoughtful consideration that he and his administration put into the selection of Judge Brown Jackson. Numerous Senators, including Republican members, have stated their willingness to consider and support a qualified nominee. Judge Brown Jackson clearly exceeds that standard. IFPTE expects those Senators to live up to their word and looks forward to urging all Senators to vote to confirm her." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Joe Sellers, President, SMART: "We commend President Biden's historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her experience, credentials, dedication to public service and commitment to the rule of law illustrate that she will safeguard the rights and freedoms of working people. While serving as an appeals court judge, Judge Jackson issued a ruling ending a Trump administration policy that restricted collective bargaining rights of public-sector workers. The U.S. Supreme Court should reflect the diversity of the communities that it serves, and this nomination is an important step in helping achieve a fair judicial system. We urge the Senate to swiftly confirm her nomination." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Jim Hoffa, President, Teamsters: "Judge Jackson is an outstanding choice for the Supreme Court. Her experience and qualifications are unquestioned – as is her dedication to upholding the law. Judge Jackson will bring a welcome voice to the Supreme Court. A voice of reason and justice that will not be swayed by the extreme politics of the day. Judge Jackson's rulings show an understanding of the importance of protecting civil and human rights and a belief that a workers' right to organize and collectively bargain should never be threatened. The Teamsters Union strongly supports her nomination to the Supreme Court. It is our hope that the Senate will again show bipartisan support for Judge Jackson, as they have done three times before, and move forward with a fair and timely confirmation." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Sean McGarvey, President, North America's Building Trades Union: "North America's Building Trades Unions applauds President Biden's historical nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Throughout her career, Judge Jackson has called balls and strikes fairly in our justice system, stood up for democracy and upheld the Constitution for the betterment of the American people. Her record demonstrates a deep understanding and concern for economic justice, workers' rights, and the right to collectively bargain. Judge Jackson's remarkable reputation and impeccable experience will serve America well at the highest court, and we look forward to her swift and bipartisan Senate confirmation." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Marc McManus, President, UA: "As one of our nation's brightest legal minds, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has demonstrated the character, conviction, and moral clarity needed to uphold the rule of law. If confirmed, Judge Jackson will bring a much-needed and long-overdue voice to the Supreme Court," said Mark McManus, General President of the United Association. "Throughout her career, Judge Jackson has consistently ruled to protect the rights of workers everywhere to organize, to collectively bargain, and to fight against unscrupulous contractors and unfair labor laws. I have the utmost confidence that Judge Jackson will continue to rule with the fairness and commitment to the rule of law that has guided her career. Judge Jackson will continue to bring a relentlessly impartial approach to upholding the rule of law that ensures strong labor protections are upheld and that unfair rulings like Janus and Citizens United are not used to further weaken labor laws and our nation's electoral process. After generations of anti-worker rulings from activist justices like Antonin Scalia, Judge Jackson will be a welcome and impartial voice to protect workers' rights. Judge Jackson has already been confirmed with bipartisan majorities by the Senate on three separate occasions – including once by this current body just last year – and I look forward to her swift and thorough confirmation to serve on the Supreme Court." [Statement, 2/25/22]

Joseph R. Biden, WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Labor 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/354644

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