Newswire: President Biden nominates Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the U.S. Supreme Court

Judge Katanji Brown Jackson introduced at the White House, flanked by President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris



By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

For the first time in American history, a Black woman has been nominated to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
By selecting Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Feb. 25, President Joe Biden completed his pledge to select a Black woman for the court for the first time in history.
A Black woman has never served on the U.S. Supreme Court since it was created in 1789 — over 232 years ago. Since then, only two other Black persons have served on the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall, who was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967, and Clarence Thomas, who was appointed by President George H. W. Bush in 1991 amid significant controversy.
In over two centuries, 114 justices have served on the Supreme Court and 108 of them have been white men.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That federal court is seen as a feeder for nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Miami, Florida.  She attended Harvard University for college and law school and was the editor of the Harvard Law Review. She began her legal career as a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.
In what may have been a clue that Judge Jackson would be nominated, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia broke with tradition on Feb. 24 and issued an opinion on a Thursday.  That scheduling change was noted by the media since the court typically only issues opinions on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Only one other woman of color has served on the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor of New York, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009. Three other women have served on the Supreme Court: Sandra Day O’Connor, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981; Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993; Associate Justice Elena Kagan, who was appointed by President Obama in 2010; and Associate Justice Amy Barrett who was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2020.
In 1958, just 3 percent of law school students were women. In 2020, women made up 54 percent of law students in the United States.
The 51-year-old District native, who shares two children with her husband Patrick Jackson, worked in civil and criminal appellate litigation in both state and federal courts for Morrison & Foerster LLP.
Judge Brown Jackson also served as an assistant federal public defender in the appeals division of the Office of the Public Defender in D.C. She will be the first public defender to serve on the Supreme Court. She will also be the first defense attorney since Thurgood Marshall to serve on the high court.
Though the selection represents a historic moment in American history, the court will maintain its 6-3 conservative edge as it tackles high-profile and controversial cases, including gun rights, religious liberty, and abortion.
“Judge Katanji Brown Jackson will fight for African Americans and other communities of color. We haven’t had this on the Supreme Court since Justice Thurgood Marshall,” said National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
With a 50-50 Senate, Democrats do not need Republican help to confirm Judge Jackson. Democrats can accomplish the historic confirmation with their 50 votes and Vice President Harris breaking a deadlock.
Three Republican senators – Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Susan Collins of Maine – supported Judge Jackson when the jurist earned confirmation to the appellate court.

Newswire: Supreme Court upholds Obamacare

Supreme Court

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Supreme Court In a significant victory for the Biden-Harris administration and Americans who depend on affordable health care, the Supreme Court rejected the latest challenge to President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. The challenge stemmed from whether the individual mandate could be cut from the rest of the law or whether the justices should strike down the entire law. Former President Trump made it his mission to get rid of the law, which has provided millions of Americans with access to affordable health care, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. The court ruled 7-2, with Justice Stephen Breyer writing for the majority, striking down a lower court ruling and determining that the plaintiffs — Texas and 17 other GOP-led states — did not show that they have the standing to bring the initial suits. “We conclude that the plaintiffs in this suit failed to show a concrete, particularized injury fairly traceable to the defendants’ conduct in enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional,” wrote Justice Breyer. “They have failed to show that they have the standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision. Therefore, we reverse the Fifth Circuit’s judgment in respect to standing, vacate the judgment, and remand the case with instructions to dismiss,” the Justice continued. “We do not reach these questions of the Act’s validity … for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Reportedly, 31 million Americans have health coverage connected to the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare. Also, a guarantee of access to continuous insurance coverage is protected for more than 54 million people with preexisting conditions because of the health care law’s provisions that prevent insurance companies from canceling or refusing to establish policies because of pre-existing conditions.

Newswire: Rep. Terri Sewell: John Lewis left the fight to protect voting rights for us to finish

John Lewis’ steady and persistent voice reminded us that the vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in our democracy. We must protect it.

By: Terri A. Sewell, Op-Ed in USA Today

Terri A. Sewell

Congressman John Lewis was a beacon of light, hope and inspiration throughout his life. To be in his presence was to experience love, whole-hearted and without exception. He remained until his passing a faithful servant-leader, whose righteousness, kindness and vision for a more equitable future inspired all who were blessed to know him. Though he was so often met with hatred, violence and racial terrorism, it never permeated his being. While Congressman Lewis has left this earth, his legacy fighting for equality and justice lives on.
Now, to honor John, our nation and our leaders must unite behind the cause most dear to him: voting rights. We must restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to its full strength so that every American, regardless of color, is able to make their voice heard at the ballot box.
Lewis’ voice has been consistent over the years. He reminded us that the vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in our democracy. He dedicated his life to ensuring that all Americans were able to access that most fundamental right, and we owe it to him to ensure that his life’s work was not in vain.
We have seen increased efforts across the nation to make it more difficult to vote. Since the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, legislatures across the country have implemented proven discriminatory practices like strict voter ID laws, closures of polling places, gerrymandered districts and voter roll purges, disproportionately impacting Black Americans. While Republican lawmakers have defended the laws as necessary to protect against voter fraud, their cries — and fear mongering — is based on myth. Widespread voter fraud is not a legitimate threat to our democracy, but voter suppression is.
H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, would serve as an antidote to the Supreme Court’s Shelby ruling, putting the teeth back into the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that Lewis and so many other “foot soldiers” marched, bled and gave their lives for. It is languishing now in the Senate in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk.
Reflecting on Bloody Sunday during his last speech on the Selma bridge in March, Lewis said, “Our country is a better country. … But we have still a distance to travel to go before we get there.”
In memory:Honor John Lewis with a Senate vote on the voting rights he fought for his whole life.
Lewis knew that progress was elusive, that it had to be won and fought for every generation. He also firmly believed that the best days of our nation lie ahead of us. We must continue to call upon his unwavering optimism. As he would say: Never give up. Never give in. Never give out. Keep the faith and keep your eyes on the prize. And vote.
Restore the Voting Rights Act — for John Lewis, and the country he loved so deeply.
Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala., is the first Black woman elected to Congress from Alabama. Follow her on Twitter: @RepTerriSewell

Obama: Court ruling won’t end immigration debate

By: Gregory Korte, USA TODAY

President Obama


WASHINGTON — President Obama all but conceded defeat on immigration Thursday following a Supreme Court decision that kept his executive actions on hold, saying it’s unlikely he’ll be able to accomplish his goal of giving millions of immigrants semi-legal status by the end of his presidency.

Obama called the Supreme Court’s deadlock a setback that “takes us further from the country we aspire to be.” But he also predicted that an overhaul the immigration system would come eventually.”Congress isn’t able to ignore America forever,” he said.

Obama spoke following the Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock in a closely watched case that considered whether the president has the power to delay deportations of millions of immigrants who don’t have the legal authority to be in the United States.

The unusual Supreme Court tie vote — caused by the vacancy created by Senate Republicans’ refusal to confirm a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia — means that a lower court ruling stands. That decision held that states have standing to sue the federal government over the executive actions, and put important parts of Obama’s immigration plan on hold.

The Obama administration has deployed more border agents to the southern border, and Obama said he’s cut illegal border crossings to their lowest levels since 1970s. But he lamented that success on that front did not break the logjam in Congress over an immigration reform package.

“It is heartbreaking for millions of immigrants who made their lives here, who raised families here,” Obama said.

Obama promised that little would change for most immigrants, saying his administration would continue to consider long-term unauthorized immigrants a low priority for deportation. “What is unaffected by today’s ruling, or lack of a ruling, are the enforcement priorities we put in place,” he said. “As long as you have not committed a crime, our limited law enforcement resources are not focused on you.”

But the decision means that immigrant families will not be eligible for get work authorizations and government benefits. Obama said he’s not considering any more executive actions on the issue before the end of his presidency.

Obama also used the occasion to once again call on the Republican- controlled Senate to confirm his nominee for a vacancy to the Supreme Court, which would provide for a more definitive — and likely Obama-friendly — decision.

“The court’s inability to reach a decision in this case is a very clear reminder of why it’s so important for the Supreme Court to have a full bench.”

Obama did praise a separate decision upholding affirmative action in college admissions. “We are not a country that guarantees equal outcomes, but we do strive to provide an equal shot to everyone, and that;s what the Supreme Court upheld today,” Obama said.


Supreme Court blocks challenge to ‘one person, one vote’ in key voting rights case

Written By Desire Thompson, NBC News

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that districts will continue to use total population instead of voter population to determine legislative redistricting in Texas, maintaining fair voting rights for the state’s large Latino population. According to NBC News, the decision was made Monday after Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger argued that only eligible voters should be counted, which can harm large urban communities consisting of non-voters and children, but benefit large districts with conservative and rural voters.
The ruling, signed with an opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was supported by Justices John Roberts, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas concurred but drew their own notes on the ‘one person, one vote’ law.
“In a concurring opinion, one of the Supreme Court’s conservatives, Justice Alito, said Monday’s decision holds only that states are not required to count total population. The ruling does not bar states from instead counting the voting population, which he called “an important and sensitive question that we can consider if and when” such a case comes before the court.”
The historic “one person, one vote” view has been seen as a clear way to treat voters equally across districts. If the argument was supported, large states like Texas, New York, California, New Jersey, Arizona and Nevada would have seen the largest changes in voting rights.
The ruling is also a win for liberals who have supported total population voting. Ginsburg explained that those not eligible to vote need representation and the 14th amendment is permitted as a foundation for drawing districts.
“Nonvoters have an important stake in many policy debates—children, their parents, even their grandparents, for example, have a stake in a strong public-education system—and in receiving constituent services, such as help navigating public-benefits bureaucracies,” Ginsburg wrote, “By ensuring that each representative is subject to requests and suggestions from the same number of constituents, total population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation.”
“Adopting voter-eligible apportionment as constitutional command would upset a well-functioning approach to districting that all 50 States and countless local jurisdictions have followed for decades, even centuries,” Ginsburg wrote. “Appellants have shown no reason for the Court to disturb this longstanding use of total population.”

No breakthrough in Supreme Court dispute between Obama, Republicans

By Ayesha Rascoe, Reuters

U.S. President Obama meets with the bipartisan leaders of the Senate to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Scalia, at the White House in Washington

U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd R) meets with the bipartisan leaders of the Senate to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, at the White House in Washington March 1, 2016. From L-R: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Vice President Joe Biden, Obama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd R) meets with the bipartisan leaders of the Senate to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, at the White House in Washington March 1, 2016.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican leaders of the Senate on Tuesday rebuffed President Barack Obama’s appeal for hearings and a vote on his U.S. Supreme Court nominee during a face-to-face meeting that failed to budge them from their vow to block any nominee he offers.
Obama, planning to name a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the coming weeks, huddled with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley in the White House Oval Office for less than an hour.”Senator Grassley and I made it clear that we don’t intend to take up a nominee or to have a hearing,” McConnell told reporters after the meeting.
The meeting failed to produce any progress on how to proceed with finding a replacement for Scalia, a long-serving conservative justice who died on Feb. 13.
McConnell and Grassley are insistent that Obama not pick a nominee and leave the decision to his successor, who takes office next January after the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election. Obama is insistent that it is the Republican-led Senate’s constitutional duty to act on his nominee.
“They made clear in their meeting with the president that they’re not going to change their mind just because the president says so,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said of the Republicans.