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What a Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson could bring to the Supreme Court


On Wednesday, Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson began her courtesy calls on senators on Capitol Hill. It's the first step on the road that the White House hopes will take her to the Supreme Court, where, if confirmed, she will be the first Black woman to sit on the High Court. To dig a little deeper into what that means and the kind of impact Ketanji Brown Jackson could have on the court, we called Fatima Goss Graves. She's the president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center and a co-founder of the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund. Fatima Goss Graves, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: I'm so glad to be here.

MARTIN: In an op-ed for CNN, you wrote that you said this is a nomination that should unite the country. You said diversity strengthens the integrity of the institution to the broader public and, in particular, the many black women who face many of the harshest injustices of our system today. It's critical for the U.S. Supreme Court to understand the impact of its rulings in the real world, and it can't do that until it reflects the country it governs. Jackson will move us closer to a more fair and just system for women, for Black Americans and for everyone on the side of equality before the law. Many people look at the court as being excessively political in a way that many people feel should not be the case. I mean, it was once called the, you know, the - what? - is it the least dangerous branch? And now there are many people who say it is the opposite of that. I'm interested in your view of how you say that diversity will strengthen the integrity of the institution to the broader public.

GOSS GRAVES: You know, the last year, the court has - its support in the sense that people have that it is political has accelerated. And part of that is some of the decisions that the court has made. Part of it is its use of a thing called the shadow docket, where, without full briefing and argument, it's making really important decisions and including around things like abortion access and the access to the ballot. So this is capturing people's attention. And I think it's raising a range of questions around the court itself, its role in a healthy and functioning democracy and why it is, frankly, that these nine individuals have so much power.

And as long as people are asking those questions and sort of looking under the hood, the court itself is less secure. And so I actually think it behooves the court itself to be a court that is more diverse, where people see their perspectives more representative. And the last few years, the way in which the court shifted so dramatically and you're seeing the results and their decisions, it is making people nervous. And so I am someone who has come up believing that the rule of law and the Supreme Court is so very critical to our very democracy. I want to hold onto that belief, and I think people in this country do, too.

MARTIN: Fatima Goss Graves is president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center and co-founder of the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund. Fatima Goss Graves, thanks so much for spending this time with us.

GOSS GRAVES: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.