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5 things to know about Miami’s Ketanji Brown Jackson, Supreme Court nominee

Quick facts about the woman who may make history as the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a U.S. Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, poses for a portrait, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, in her office at the court in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a U.S. Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, poses for a portrait, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, in her office at the court in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) [ JACQUELYN MARTIN | AP ]
Published Feb. 25|Updated Feb. 25

A Miami Palmetto Senior High grad may be on her way to U.S. Supreme Court.

On Friday morning, the White House announced that President Joe Biden has nominated federal appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the U.S. Supreme Court.

If Brown Jackson, 51, is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she’ll make history as the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court.

Here are a handful of details on who this South Florida luminary happens to be.

1. Raised in South Florida

Though born in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14, 1970, Brown Jackson grew up in South Miami-Dade.

Her father, Johnny Brown, was the attorney for the Miami-Dade School Board, and her mother, Ellery Brown, was the principal at New World School of the Arts, a public magnet high school in Miami, from 1993 to 2007.

2. Excelled in high school

The Class of 1988 Palmetto High grad gained significant practice for what was to come later in her career: Brown Jackson was an exceptional debater.

In a 2017 lecture at the University of Georgia, Brown Jackson said her speech and debate experience at Palmetto gave her “the self-confidence that can sometimes be quite difficult for women and minorities to develop at an early age.”

At Palmetto, Brown Jackson said she learned reasoning and writing skills that would serve her well in the judicial system.

“I have no doubt that, of all the various things that I’ve done, it is my high school experience as a competitive speaker that taught me how to lean in despite the obstacles.”

She was a Miami Herald Silver Knight honorable mention in the drama category.

3. She’s a writer

Brown Jackson put those Palmetto-honed writing skills to use post-college.

New York Intelligencer reports that Brown Jackson was a staff writer and researcher for Time magazine in New York City from 1992, the year she earned her bachelor’s in government at Harvard, to 1993, when she left to start at Harvard Law School, from which she’d graduate in 1996.

While in law school, she was a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review.

4. She followed through on her goal

This is what Brown Jackson was quoted as saying in the 1988 Palmetto High yearbook Echo: “I want to go into law and eventually have a judicial appointment.”

According to the White House bio on the potential Supreme Court justice, one of Brown Jackson’s Palmetto guidance counselors may not have been quite so prescient. When the student told the counselor she wanted to attend Harvard, the guidance counselor reportedly warned the future judge that she should not set her “sights so high.”

5. Worked for her predecessor, Justice Stephen Breyer

If confirmed, Brown Jackson will replace Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer who is retiring.

Brown Jackson served as his law clerk after she graduated from Harvard Law School. She clerked for Breyer during his 1999-2000 Supreme Court term.

At her 2013 swearing-in ceremony as a federal judge in D.C., Breyer praised his former clerk. “She sees things from different points of view, and she sees somebody else’s point of view and understands it.”

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This story was supplemented with work from Miami Herald and McClatchy reporters Jay Weaver, Aaron Leibowitz and Bryan Lowry.

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