On Feb. 25, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the United States Supreme Court. After news of the nomination broke, several headlines (here, here, and here) lauded Jackson for being the first Black woman to ever receive a nomination for a position on the Supreme Court.
Last week, Jackson appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her Supreme Court confirmation hearings. During that time, memes began to spread on social media claiming that Jackson was not the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court. Instead, some people suggested that the Republican Party was actually the first to nominate a Black woman named Janice Rogers Brown to the Supreme Court, but they claimed she was blocked and filibustered by then-Senator Biden.
VERIFY viewer Ana also sent our team a text asking if former President George W. Bush nominated the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.
Did President George W. Bush nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court?
No, President George W. Bush did not nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.
WHAT WE FOUND
Judge Janice Rogers Brown never received an official Supreme Court nomination from President George W. Bush, according to a chart posted on the U.S. Senate website. The chart lists nominations officially submitted to the Senate since the Supreme Court was established in 1789.
Brown is also missing from a list of Supreme Court nominations published by the American Bar Association that dates back to 1991.
Although Bush did not nominate Brown to the Supreme Court, in 2003, he nominated Brown, who was serving as an associate justice on the California Supreme Court at the time, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Following her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Democratic senators, including Biden, threatened to block Brown from joining the federal bench because of her “extremist views on civil rights, the environment and the role of government,” according to a news article published on Nov. 3, 2003. Several other lawmakers and organizations, including the National Bar Association and Congressional Black Caucus, also opposed Brown’s nomination to the federal court, according to Congressional records.
Despite the opposition she faced, Brown was officially confirmed as a U.S. circuit judge for the District of Columbia on June 8, 2005. She remained in that position until her retirement in 2017.
News reports from 2005 show Brown was on Bush’s shortlist for potential Supreme Court nominees following Justice Sandra Day O’Conner’s retirement. However, during a July 3, 2005, interview on “Face the Nation,” Biden said if Brown were to get Bush’s nomination for the Supreme Court, “she probably would be filibustered” because the Supreme Court is a “totally different ballgame” than the appellate court.
Instead of nominating Brown to the Supreme Court to replace O’Conner, Bush nominated Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to fill O’Conner’s spot. Alito was confirmed on Jan. 31, 2006.