President Joe Biden visited the US Supreme Court for the first time since it eliminated the constitutional right to abortion as he joined Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson for her formal investiture ceremony in advance of what is likely to a divisive new high court term.
Jackson, confirmed in April as the nation’s first Black female justice, renewed her judicial oath and took her seat at the end of the court’s winged mahogany bench as part of the 5-minute ceremony.
Chief Justice John Roberts wished Jackson a “a long and happy career in our common calling” and offered a “warm welcome” to Biden, who was joined in the courtroom by Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. After the ceremony, Roberts joined Jackson for the traditional walk down the court’s front steps to the plaza where photographers awaited.
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All eight of Jackson’s new colleagues attended, as did retired Justices Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. Jackson, who filled Breyer’s seat after he stepped down, worked for him as a law clerk in the court’s 1999-2000 term. Jackson’s husband, parents and daughters sat in the front row.
Biden briefly visited the justices’ private conference room and posed for photographs before the investiture, Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said.
Among the attendees was Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, who testified a day earlier before the congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, was one of several spouses to attend the ceremony.
The court opens its new term Monday with a calendar already full of high-profile clashes, including two cases that could end the use of race in college admissions. In the first week alone, the court will consider curbing the reach of the Clean Water Act and limiting the use of the Voting Rights Act as a tool for creating heavily Black and Hispanic election districts.
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Jackson’s confirmation isn’t likely to affect the ideological balance on a court that has 6-3 conservative advantage. The court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that established a constitutional right to abortion. The conservative majority also expanded gun rights, bolstered religious freedoms and curbed the power of the Environmental Protection Agency.
(Updates with information on more attendees in sixth paragraph.)
--With assistance from Josh Wingrove.
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