As the first black woman nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is said to signify the critical need for diversity among the legal profession and the judiciary itself.
“We are in a democratic system where the laws are supposed to be indicative of the people that it serves,” said Artessia House, president of the San Antonio Black Lawyers Association.
But as far as representing those very people, House said, “We have a long way to go. This is a start. By confirming her appointment, we will be one step closer to where we need to be.”
Alan Haynes, an assistant dean at the St. Mary’s School of Law, who works on diversity initiatives, said, “Even today, 90% of lawyers are white, and diversification of the legal profession is a necessity.”
Haynes said he sees Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination as an opportunity.
“It represents, I think, the potential to get more people who are interested in the law, who are people of color to think seriously about becoming part of the profession,” Haynes said.
Karen Crawford, a second-year law student at St. Mary’s, said, “It is hard. It’s a lot of work, but it’s beneficial. If we’re not at the table, the justice system is never going to change.”
Although she hopes to someday become a prosecutor, Crawford said as the first former public defender considered for the high court, Brown Jackson “understands getting in the trenches with those who seek justice and don’t have enough money or privilege to actually access it.”
She said Brown Jackson’s extensive career shows she is one of the nation’s most qualified women on the bench.
“You can’t just be just as good,” Crawford said. “You had better be better to even try to get a nomination.”