Justice Breyer officially retires, making Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson the first black woman to join the Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court session ended this week, marking the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, and ushering in new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman on the bench of the high court.

Breyer, who served as a Supreme Court justice since 1994, announced his retirement in January, leaving enough time for President Joe Biden to nominate Jackson and have her confirmed in the Senate. Breyer’s last week on the bench saw him dissent on two major landmark rulings, one that overturned Roe v. Wade and one that supported the right to carry a firearm in public.

Breyer has served on the court long enough to see it move to the right politically, with the recent confirmation of three conservative Justices, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney-Barrett, during the Trump administration. The oldest justice on the court, Breyer frequently found himself on the dissenting side of more conservative rulings. 

Jackson, who was confirmed by the Senate in a 53-44 vote in April, took her two oaths of office as Breyer officially retired on Thursday this week at noon. Three Republican Senators joined Democrats in their confirmation votes for Jackson earlier this year. The outgoing Justice Breyer swore in Jackson at a small ceremony at the court.

Jackson joins the court at a time when tensions over SCOTUS decisions are high. Following last week’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson that threw out the Roe decision, protests erupted around the country and world leaders have expressed both praise and dismay at the decision. The next Supreme Court session begins in October, just before the midterm elections.

Upon his retirement, Breyer wrote in a letter to President Biden, “It has been my great honor to participate as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law.”




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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