By: J. Jarpa Dawuni, Ph.D.
Executive Director, IAWL
The Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) congratulates Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on her historic confirmation to the US Supreme Court – making her the first Black woman justice in its 233-year history!
Dawuni and Kang have documented the growing representation of women as chief justices and presidents of constitutional courts across Africa. Dawuni and Masengu's research also argue that the appointment of women judges can be partially attributed to the role of key decision-makers who have the power to either champion these advancements, or block women from positions of power in the judiciary entirely. In the US context, Prof. Gbemende Johnson has provided detailed analyses of the lack of Black women judges on the Federal Bench.
As part of the confirmation hearings, Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) – who was notably appointed as the first African American judge to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, provided testimony on behalf of the American Bar Association. Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), who is featured in IAWL’s African Women in Law Legacy Project interview series, delivered a comprehensive statement outlining the exceptional experience displayed by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson that deems her more than qualified for an appointment on the Supreme Court. Her statement, and those of many other decision-makers, played a key role in Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation.
This momentous achievement by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is celebrated by Black women in the legal and judicial professions in the United States and across the African Diaspora.