Ketanji Brown Jackson is officially a member of the U.S. Supreme Court after a swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.
Her ceremony took place in the Court’s West Conference Room, just a few minutes after noon when the retirement of her predecessor, Justice Stephen Breyer, went into effect.
Breyer sent a letter to Biden on Wednesday morning, stating that he would retire Thursday at noon. The letter was expected, as the 83-year-old justice announced in January that he would leave at the end of the Supreme Court’s term. The Court said on Wednesday morning that Thursday would be the last day of its spring term.
“It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law,” Breyer wrote to Biden.
Breyer helped lead the ceremony to seat Jackson, administering the judicial oath. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath, both of which are required for all new justices.
Jackson’s husband, Patrick, and their two daughters were in attendance.
“Now, on behalf of all the members of the court, I’m pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling,” Roberts said once the ceremony was complete.
A formal investiture ceremony, a customary special sitting of the Supreme Court, will take place in the fall, said Roberts.
Jackson’s swearing-in was ongoing when the Supreme Court released its last two opinions of the term – West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency and Biden v. Texas.
President Biden nominated Jackson to the Supreme Court in late February. She was working as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after Biden appointed her to that position from the District Court, which she was appointed to by former President Barack Obama.
Jackson had remained a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., but was not hearing any cases.
The Senate confirmed her nomination in early April with a 53-47, mostly party-line vote that included support from three Republicans.
Jackson joins three other women already on the Supreme Court, marking the most women to serve on the Court at the same time in history. She now sits with Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Amy Coney Barrett.
The only two other women to have served on the Supreme Court are Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and served until 2006, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and served until her death in 2020.
Jackson will be able to begin serving on the Supreme Court immediately, but with the Court having just completed the bulk of its work until the fall term starts in October, Jackson will have time to settle in. Apart from emergency appeals that arise occasionally, Jackson will be able to familiarize herself with the roughly two dozen cases the Supreme Court has already agreed to hear in the fall.