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For black women in law, Jackson’s confirmation is a source of pride

ATLANTA — Black women in law across the country celebrated Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Thursday, and many said they felt proud and inspired by her accomplishment.

Nia Jolly, a sophomore law student at the University of Louisville who was recently elected the first black woman president of her student bar, said she was thrilled for Judge Jackson and especially touched by her “resilience and her tenacity”.

“Although Judge Jackson was tried, she successfully came out the other side,” Ms Jolly said. “It’s a great day for black women in law and encouraging for black women trying to make progress everywhere.”

Stephanie Goggans, a sophomore law student at Cleveland State University and an intern for Judge Emanuella Groves, an Ohio appellate judge, said she felt empowered by Judge Jackson’s success.

“I am crying tears of joy because for the first time I can look up to the highest court in the land – a country I would lay down my life for – and see a face that looks like mine,” said Ms Goggans, 36. .

Zenell Brown, a lawyer and administrator at the Wayne County Third Circuit Court in Michigan, where she works with 58 judges, said ahead of Thursday’s vote that Ms Jackson’s confirmation would bring both pride and a sigh of relief after a process that had felt like an assault on his character.

Since February, when President Biden announced his nomination of Justice Jackson, Ms. Brown has been following the process closely. Each night of the hearings, she watched clips and read the day’s news, talked to friends and family, and posted her thoughts on social media.

Her mother-in-law, who is over 80, was particularly excited because she never imagined a black woman would be on the pitch in her lifetime, Ms Brown said. His youngest daughter, who is 30, jokes that Judge Jackson must be family because they share a last name.

“We’re not related, but this is an example that we all just want to have a piece of this exciting moment,” Ms Brown said. “We feel like ‘it’s part of me’ and I’m so proud.”

Judge Groves said Ms Jackson’s confirmation gave her hope for current and future generations of black lawyers, including her daughter who works in civil rights law and her son-in-law who is a civil rights lawyer. voter protection.

Yet for Judge Groves, 63, the confirmation hearings were thrilling but also disappointing as she thought about the questioning Ms Jackson had faced.

“The manner of questioning certain senators was not a quest to ensure the selection of a qualified jurist who would interpret the constitution fairly, but a demonstration of their desire to select a judge who would interpret the law as they wished,” said she declared. noted. “That desire was greater than being part of history when the first black female lawyer was introduced to the Supreme Court.”

Erin McNeil Young, a civil litigation attorney in North Carolina, said there were moments in the confirmation hearings that she found triggering, particularly when senators questioned Judge Jackson’s qualifications.

Yet what she found most moving about the process was seeing the judge’s parents in the gallery supporting their daughter.

“His black, loving, hard-working parents, who grew up segregated, sat there watching,” Ms Young said. “And that they both got to witness this moment after what they went through just a generation ago is close to my heart.”

“It was beautiful to see,” Ms. Young added, noting that Judge Jackson, at that time, “could have been any number of my friends with their mothers and fathers sitting there proudly.”

“I’m so excited,” she said after the judge’s confirmation. “I feel like the world is saved because that’s what black women do.”


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