The Bold and the Brilliant. Justice Brown Jackson in Action.

But Why Are We Surprised?

Justice Stephen Breyer (R) administers the Judicial Oath to Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (L) as her husband Patrick Jackson holds the Bible in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. on June 30, 2022. (Courtesy of the of the Supreme Court of the United States)

That is all to say, this woman is a Bad Ass.

We needn’t and shouldn’t be surprised that, when she speaks, we hear her bold brilliance filtered through the life experience of a Black woman who has accomplished great things in a country that assumed she would not.

Justice Thurgood Marshall took the Judicial Oath on October 2, 1967

Lived Experience.

The Court’s first African American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, served from 1967–1991. Early on, he wrote important majority opinions, including Furman v. Georgia (the death penalty is cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments) and Stanley v. Georgia (First and Fourteenth Amendments prohibit making mere private possession of obscene material a crime). But the Court shifted to the right, and Marshall spent the balance of his career dissenting. He wrote in powerful language about the common person’s experience, urging the Court to understand how real lives would be directly impacted by its decisions. Marshall’s greatest contribution as a Justice, therefore, was as a minority voice—not just as one Black man on the Court, but for Black people and underrepresented minorities writ large.

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jami floyd

Civil Rights Journalist. Decoder of Law. Social: @jamifloyd. Website: jamifloyd.com.