Irrelevant, Mistake-Prone Liberal Justice Is Supreme Court's 'Voice,' Media Say

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July 10, 2023

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson had essentially no impact during this year's Supreme Court term, and she made a number of high-profile errors. Yet according to the mainstream media, Jackson's debut on the High Court was nothing less than a historic tour de force.

The media began gushing over Jackson even before President Joe Biden nominated her to the Supreme Court last year, fulfilling his campaign pledge to pick a black woman for the job.

Now, the media are marveling at Jackson's stunning and brave "voice"—even if her influence on the conservative-dominated Court remains "at the margins," as the New York Times delicately puts it.

The Times: "In Her First Term, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson ‘Came to Play’":

The first Black female member of the Supreme Court wasted no time in finding her footing, asserting herself in dissents, alliances and questions from the bench.

From her first week on the Supreme Court bench in October to the final day of the term that ended last week, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson did something remarkable for a junior justice: She established herself as a distinctive voice on the court. … 

Justice Jackson is a member of a three-justice liberal minority, which means she typically does not have much power to affect the outcomes of major cases. But sometimes she may be able to make important contributions at the margins.

Washington Post: "Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Bold Debut and Independent Streak":

Jackson on Friday completed her rookie term as the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court, making a forceful debut from the bench and in writing while showing signs of an independent streak. As anticipated, she was most often aligned with the court’s two other liberal justices—Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—putting her on the losing side of high-profile, contentious decisions involving affirmative action in college admissions, gay rights and President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program.

But Jackson also demonstrated a willingness to part ways with her liberal colleagues, even when they were on the same side of an issue, to express her own vision of the law. She authored more solo dissenting opinions—three—than any of the three most recent justices to join the court did as newbies. …

Biden "may have been looking for a Black woman, but she wasn’t just any Black woman," [New York University law professor Melissa] Murray said. "She was excellent and prepared and made a critical difference in a number of cases."

Reuters: "For Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Self-Assured and Forceful U.S. Supreme Court Debut":

Boston College constitutional law expert Kent Greenfield said Jackson's presence on the bench may have helped shape those rulings in part by bringing a different life experience to the table."She's a person of heft, a person of high intellect and she's not being quiet," Greenfield said. "She's very self-aware of the role she's playing."

NBC News: "'Unabashed': Justice Jackson Marks Her First Year on the Supreme Court Unafraid To Stake Her Own Position":

Although Jackson, 52, is clearly a solid part of the liberal minority on the 6-3 conservative-majority court, her opinion in Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters illustrated how she was forthright and eager to have her voice heard, even when she was out on her own. …

Jackson made her presence felt on her first day in the Supreme Court's ornate courtroom in October, asking a series of polite but insistent questions, setting a trend that would continue throughout the term."Let me try to bring some enlightenment to it," she said on that first day, when the court was hearing a knotty case about federal authority to regulate wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

Bloomberg Law: "Justice Jackson Didn’t Win Often, But What She Said Mattered":

Any mention of glaring weaknesses in Jackson's decisions was almost entirely relegated to right-leaning media—even when the justice got basic facts wrong, as happened last week.

National Review: "Justice Jackson’s Abysmal Affirmative-Action Dissent"

Jackson took great umbrage at the Court’s striking down race-based college admissions in the case involving the policies of Harvard and the University of North Carolina. (She recused herself from the Harvard part of the ruling.)

Her much-praised handiwork, though, hardly qualifies as a legal opinion. It reads like a guest essay by "anti-racist" guru Ibram X. Kendi in the New York Times. 

Wall Street Journal: "Justice Jackson’s Incredible Statistic"

Even Supreme Court justices are known to be gullible. In a dissent from last week’s ruling against racial preferences in college admissions, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson enumerated purported benefits of "diversity" in education. "It saves lives," she asserts. "For high-risk Black newborns, having a Black physician more than doubles the likelihood that the baby will live."

A moment’s thought should be enough to realize that this claim is wildly implausible. Imagine if 40% of black newborns died—thousands of dead infants every week. But even so, that’s a 60% survival rate, which is mathematically impossible to double. And the actual survival rate is over 99%.

Ben Shapiro: "The best proof that affirmative action elevates the unqualified to high office are the recent dissents from Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor."

Meanwhile, the media are amplifying calls to remove the Supreme Court's other black justice, whose decades of conservative jurisprudence paved the way for many of this term's most significant rulings.