Just four days after President Joe Biden nominated her to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson submitted her responses to a questionnaire that the Senate Judiciary Committee will use as it considers her nomination. Her responses repeat many of the details in the questionnaire that she submitted in 2021 when she was nominated to her current position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. But Jackson’s Supreme Court questionnaire does provide new information about the nomination process and her approach to potential conflicts of interest.
Jackson revealed that Biden’s White House counsel, Dana Remus, first contacted her about the possibility of filling Breyer’s seat on Jan. 30 – three days after Breyer officially announced his retirement in a letter to the president. Jackson met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Zoom less than two weeks later, on Feb. 11; three days after that, on Feb. 14, she met with Biden and Remus at the White House. Biden officially offered Jackson the job on Feb. 24, and he announced the nomination the following day.
Like other Supreme Court nominees before her, Jackson pledged to resolve potential conflicts of interest by consulting the code of conduct that governs federal judges, although that code does not formally bind Supreme Court justices. She also pledged to take the additional step of seeking “guidance from judicial ethics officials to structure my limited financial investments to minimize the potential for conflicts.” Some groups advocating for court reform, most notably the nonpartisan group Fix the Court, have called for the justices to minimize their ownership of individual stocks, which would reduce the number of cases in which the justices would need to recuse themselves for financial reasons. In February, the Senate approved legislation that would require the justices (and all other federal judges) to promptly disclose their stock trades in an online database. The bill is similar to a measure that the House approved in December.
Jackson is scheduled to meet with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Senate majority leader, on Wednesday morning. It is the first of what is expected to be a series of courtesy calls with senators before her Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. The hearings have not yet been scheduled, although Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who chairs the committee, has said that he would like to wrap up the confirmation process by April 9.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.