There’s a new Supreme Court nominee in town, and her name is Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Like most judges who reach this point of prestige, Brown attended an Ivy League law school, worked at a plethora of top law firms, and sits on the board of numerous impressive institutions. But there are two important factors that distinguish her from her colleagues. One, she is the first black woman to be nominated to the court. And two, she’s the first judge with public defense experience to be nominated to the high court since 1967.
That’s right. The last Supreme Court justice with a record of fighting the government vs. upholding it was Thurgood Marshall, who died in 1993.
Is it any coincidence that during that time we’ve seen a significant diminishment in privacy protections, due process, and the right to a jury trial?
I think not.
Our Constitution spends a great deal of time limiting the government’s power and asserting the rights of defendants in our criminal justice system. Yet today, through civil asset forfeiture, police steal more money from citizens than robbers. They also barge into people’s homes in the middle of the night with no-knock raids, coerce confessions, and regularly physically abuse or even kill citizens. And they’re protected in all of these activities by the made-up Supreme Court doctrine of qualified immunity.
Not only that, but our federal government spies on people, illegally collects evidence against them, and executes innocent people. And, our justice system as a whole has almost entirely done away with the jury trial.
Where has the Supreme Court been on any of this?
It is of the utmost importance that we have justices on the high court who have spent time fighting the government on behalf of individuals vs. working to uphold the system’s injustices. For this reason, Brown’s nomination is exciting and there’s reason to hope her decisions on matters of civil liberties will be greatly influenced by her past experience.
Conservatives and libertarians will likely not find an economic liberty champion in Ketanji Brown Jackson, nor is there reason to think she will be a consistent champion of all civil liberties, such as self-defense. But if a Democrat appointee yields us a judge that will actually stand for the rights of the accused against the government, it should be considered a win.