President Joe Biden is nominating to the Supreme Court appellate judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who once upheld mandatory country of origin labeling requirements for meat.
Her nomination would preserve the court's ideological balance, and environmental groups hailed the choice to replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal stalwart on the court since 1994.
Jackson, currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is the first Black woman to be nominated as an associate justice in the court’s history.
A White House statement Friday said Jackson was "an exceptionally qualified nominee as well as an historic nominee."
She "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. Judge Jackson has been confirmed by the Senate with votes from Republicans as well as Democrats three times," the statement said.
Jackson spoke briefly Friday afternoon at the White House, flanked by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. "My life has been blessed beyond measure, and I do know that one can only come this far by faith. Among my many blessings, and indeed the very first, is the fact that I was born in this great country," she said.
During his presidential campaign in February 2020, Biden pledged to put a Black woman on the high court. The White House scheduled an announcement of her nomination for Friday afternoon.
Jackson spent seven years as a district judge before the Senate approved her for a seat on the D.C. Circuit last year in a 53-44 vote.
Jackson has not authored any opinions at the appeals court, but as a federal district judge issued a decision in 2013 upholding country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) regulations that had been challenged by the meat industry. (The D.C. Circuit affirmed her ruling the next year, but Congress rescinded COOL requirements for beef and pork in 2015.)
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In her decision, Jackson rejected claims by the North American Meat Institute and other plaintiffs that the regulations violated the First Amendment by forcing them to disclose production step information.
Jackson also ruled against Food & Water Watch in 2015, finding the group could not demonstrate legal standing to sue USDA over its New Poultry Inspection System. The appeals court affirmed.
Manish Bapna, president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called Jackson “an inspired choice and a superbly qualified nominee."
Bapna noted that the Supreme Court is currently considering two cases with major environmental implications, one dealing with the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act and the other with the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
“Those cases underscore the importance of confirming justices and judges, like Jackson, who respect precedent and recognize the government’s role in addressing consequential societal issues, like protecting the environment and public health,” Bapna said.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Jackson would receive a "prompt" confirmation hearing. "After the Judiciary Committee finishes their work I will ask the Senate to move immediately to confirm her to the Supreme Court," Schumer said.
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