Changing of the Guard: As Justice Breyer Officially Retires, Justice Jackson Is Sworn In

On Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced that he would officially retire as of noon Thursday, following the hand down of the last two remaining decisions of the term.


Shortly thereafter, Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was confirmed by the Senate in April, was sworn in as the newest justice with the Court. Per Fox:

Jackson was sworn in a few minutes after noon, which was when the retirement of her predecessor, Justice Stephen Breyer, became effective. Breyer himself helped lead the ceremony, which took place in the court’s West Conference Room. Breyer administered the judicial oath, and Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath, both of which are required for all justices. Jackson’s husband Patrick Jackson and their two daughters were in attendance.


Justice Jackson obtained her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. She clerked for Justice Breyer and later served for eight years as a judge at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, before serving for the past year at the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.


Though she is the third Jackson to serve on the court, Justice Jackson is, as has been widely noted, the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. This also marks the first time the Court has two Black justices, and four women justices, for those keeping tabs on the Court’s demographics (and those who are comfortable defining what a “woman” is).

Justice Jackson thanked Justice Breyer for his service and expressed confidence in her new role.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who attended law school with Justice Jackson, issued a statement on the occasion of Justice Breyer’s retirement and Justice Jackson’s swearing-in:


This changing of the guard at the high court takes on added significance in the shadow (dare I say, “penumbra”?) of an extraordinarily impactful Supreme Court term. Senator Cruz’s expressed concerns are understandable. Would that his hope that the jurisprudence of Justice Jackson — and the rest of the Court — “will be illuminated by the spirit of liberty, and bound by the text of the Constitution” be realized.


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