New Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson's Family Are Her Biggest Cheerleaders

·5 min read
Photo credit: GETTY IMAGES - Getty Images
Photo credit: GETTY IMAGES - Getty Images
  • President Joe Biden's pick for the next Supreme Court Justice is federal appeals court judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

  • Jackson was sworn in as an associate justice after Justice Stephen Breyer retired on June 30.

  • Jackson's family has been by her side throughout the whole process, including her husband, parents, brother, and daughters.

Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the 116th justice of the Supreme Court today, making history as the first Black woman to serve on the highest court of the nation.

She is also be the first public defender to hold the position. Vice President Kamala Harris confirmed the nomination on April 7th.

Jackson was sworn in as an associate justice after Justice Stephen Breyer retired on June 30, per CNBC. Breyer officially stepped down from the bench at noon on Thursday. After that, he swore in his former law clerk—Ketanji Brown Jackson—to take his place on the bench, according to ABC News.

Of course, the nomination and accolades from President Joe Biden were validating. But having her family by her side for the lengthy hearings also provided her with support. Her husband, daughters, parents, and brother were all in attendance, which has led to plenty of questions about the family.

If you're curious to know more them, here’s everything there is to know so far.

Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images

Her husband is a doctor.

When Jackson introduced her husband, Dr. Patrick Graves Jackson, on the first day of her Supreme Court nomination hearing, she said: "Speaking of unconditional love, I’d like to introduce you to my husband of 25 years, Dr. Patrick Jackson." Patrick got emotional while sitting behind her.

"I have no doubt that without him by my side from the very beginning of this incredible professional journey, none of this would have been possible. We met in college more than three decades ago. Since then, he’s been the best husband, father, and friend that I could ever imagine. Patrick, I love you," she said.

Patrick is chief of gastrointestinal surgery at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital and an associate professor of surgery at Georgetown University. He specializes in a slew of different surgeries, according to his online bio, including abdominal wall reconstructions and hernias.

The couple met in college.

The two met when they were studying at Harvard, according to the Miami Herald. Patrick went on to go to medical school at Columbia University and did his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Jackson also mentioned in her speech during the nomination hearing that Patrick was her first "serious boyfriend." The duo dated for around six years before getting married in 1996. “We were an unlikely pair in many respects, but somehow we found each other,” she explained.

They have two daughters.

Jackson and Patrick have two daughters, Leila, 17, and Talia, 21. They attended Jackson's hearing on day one:

Photo credit: Kent Nishimura - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kent Nishimura - Getty Images

Naturally, Leila and Talia are totally in their mom's corner. When Lelia was 11, she wrote to President Barack Obama explaining why Jackson would be the perfect choice to fill the SCOTUS seat that opened up after Justice Scalia's death.

“Dear Mr. President,” the letter read, per AP News, “She’s determined, honest and never breaks a promise to anyone even if there are other things she’d rather do. She can demonstrate commitment and is loyal and never brags. I think she would make a great Supreme Court justice.”

During the June 27 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, she addressed her daughters about her career, per CNN.

"Girls, I know it has not been easy as I have tried to navigate the challenges of juggling my career and motherhood," she said. "And I fully admit that I did not always get the balance right. But I hope that you have seen that with hard work, determination, and love, it can be done. I am so looking forward to seeing what each of you chooses to do with your amazing lives in this incredible country."

Jackson has a younger brother.

Despite the 10 year age gap between Jackson and her brother Ketajh, working to serve the country runs strong in the family. Ketajh previously worked as an undercover narcotics recovery officer in Baltimore before joining the Maryland Army National Guard following the attack on the World Trade Center, per The Guardian.

Now, he works as an associate at K&L Gates' law firm in Chicago.

Her parents have attended the confirmation hearings.

Jackson's parents Johnny and Ellery Brown have been by her side throughout the past few weeks to show their support. According to Jackson’s White House biography, her parents grew up in the Jim Crow South and attended segregated primary schools before graduating from colleges that were historically Black, per CNN.

During one of her opening statements, she revealed that her father played a big role in her career path.

“My very earliest memories are of watching my father study—he had his stack of law books on the kitchen table while I sat across from him with my stack of coloring books,” she said, per CNN.

Patrick is related to Paul Ryan through marriage.

Jackson's husband has a twin brother named William Jackson who—fun fact—is actually married to Dana Little Jackson, the sister of former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, per NBC News.

Following Jackson's confirmation, Ryan took to Twitter to show his support:

Patrick has always been super supportive of his wife.

Jackson used to clerk for Federal Judge Patti Saris, who told NPR that Patrick used to go to the courtroom after his shift at the hospital as a surgical resident because he was “so fascinated by his wife’s work.” Saris said Patrick would look “scruffy” from his long hours as a resident and was once mistaken for an unhoused man.

Patrick's also said some really sweet things about her.

Patrick’s tweets are no longer visible to the public, but he shared a sweet message in June 2021 that paid tribute to his wife.

“Happy Loving Day! I am especially thankful to be walking through life with a brilliant and compassionate partner who still takes my breath away, made possible by sacrifices like Richard and Mildred Loving,” he wrote, per The Associated Press.

FYI, Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested because of their interracial marriage, which led to a landmark Supreme Court case that brought an end to the remaining segregation laws in the U.S.

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