Read a PDF of our statement here.

Today, following the official retirement of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to ever serve on the nation’s highest judicial body.

In response to this historic occasion, Legal Defense Fund (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Janai S. Nelson released the following statement:

“LDF congratulates Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and her family for this historic accomplishment. During an unprecedented and uniquely challenging moment concerning the credibility of the Supreme Court and the future of U.S. democracy, we are grateful to know that the Court’s newest addition is a jurist who possesses exemplary credentials, intellect, and character. She also brings a deep understanding of the lived experience of marginalized Americans, including persons charged with criminal offenses — a perspective sorely lacking on the Court.

“Fittingly, Justice Jackson is joining the Court a mere two days before the 114th anniversary of the birth of Thurgood Marshall, who was LDF’s founder and the first Black person to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and as the Court is poised to take up issues critical to the protection of voting rights and equal opportunity. Today’s historic swearing-in should be a source of pride and hope for all those who remain committed to preserving and strengthening our multiracial democracy and building integrity in this essential branch of the federal government.”


Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.