U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine announced Tuesday that he will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, to the Supreme Court.
“Given the gravity of a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, my practice is to withhold any decision on a nominee — regardless of my previous positions on that nominee for other judgeships — until I carefully review their qualifications, observe their appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and personally meet with them.
“I have done so and now offer my unqualified support for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
“Judge Jackson’s qualifications speak for themselves: stellar academic credentials, prestigious judicial clerkships, a strong track record as a federal public defender, distinguished service as a federal trial and appellate judge, and multiple attestations to her character and fairness. She would make history as the first African-American woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
“I take particular note of the fact that her confirmation would lead to a Court with four women justices. When I started law school, there had never been a woman justice. The fact that such a positive change has occurred during my professional career gives me hope about our progress toward the ideal of equality that is our nation’s moral North Star.
“I am particularly drawn to two attributes that Judge Jackson will bring to the Court.
“She will be the first public defender to serve on the Supreme Court. Other current justices have served as state or federal prosecutors. That expertise is needed. But in a nine-member body that so often grapples with questions at the heart of our criminal justice system, a former public defender will have much to add to the collegial search for the best resolution of cases that come before the Court.
“She will also join Justice Sotomayor as the second trial judge on the Court. A significant portion of the Court’s caseload concerns how trials should be conducted to maximize fair results and public confidence in the judicial system itself. Trial judges have a unique set of responsibilities — empaneling and instructing jurors, ruling on evidentiary questions, determining whether to grant preliminary injunctions, making witness credibility calls, considering dispositive motions, handling discovery disputes, rendering judgment, imposing sentences. These are weighty matters and many underestimate how difficult their work is.
“As Governor of Virginia, I had the opportunity to appoint three appellate judges to the Virginia Supreme Court and Virginia Court of Appeals. As someone who tried many cases in state and federal courts over the course of my 17-year career as a practicing lawyer, I always chose someone who had been a respected trial judge because of the skills and knowledge that trial judges bring to the appellate bench.
“In our interview, Judge Jackson told me that her work in the district court would help her make Supreme Court pronouncements ‘workable’ for the lower court judges who will put those rulings into effect. It’s a humble word. It’s also a compelling one.
“Good trial judges know how to administer justice. I am confident that Judge Brown Jackson will use that experience to help administer justice from the Supreme Court.”