Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson spoke yesterday at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama at a memorial to mark the 60th anniversary of the KKK bombing there that killed four girls. Here’s a gift link to a NYT article about KBJ’s speech. Excerpts from the article below:
In a speech from the pulpit of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Justice Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court, said that she made her first trip to Alabama “to commemorate and mourn, celebrate — and warn…”
“If we’re going to continue to move forward as a nation we cannot allow concerns about discomfort to displace knowledge, truth or history,” Justice Jackson told a crowd of hundreds. “It is certainly the case that parts of this country’s story can be hard to think about. I know that atrocities like the one we’re memorializing today are difficult to remember and relive. But I also know that it is dangerous to forget them.”
“We cannot forget because the uncomfortable lessons are often the ones that teach us the most about ourselves,” she added. “We cannot forget because we cannot learn from past mistakes we do not know exist.”
The Times says it’s “rare” for a Supreme Court justice to speak publicly on civil rights issues. Prior to KBJ’s speech, only Justices Breyer and Marshall “have made notable appearances at civil-rights-related events,” according to the article. It also notes that when justices do appear in public, they usually stick to law school lectures or commencement addresses in academic settings or judicial conferences.
That last part is not quite accurate. According to an oil painting commissioned by billionaire GOP sugar daddy Harlan Crow, Clarence Thomas has addressed plutocrats and Fed-Soc bigwigs in luxurious yet casual settings over brandy and cigars. I’m sure we still don’t know the half of it.
KBJ’s colleague Samuel Alito regularly complains in public about unfavorable press and asserts that he and the court are exempt from Congressional oversight. I think Amy Coney Barrett appeared at a Mitch McConnell shindig a few years back to absurdly claim the court’s Fed-Soc Six are apolitical.
Their greed and naked partisanship stand in stark contrast to the civic and moral clarity of Ketanji Brown Jackson, who sees what’s happening in parts of this country and told the truth about it yesterday. She’s worth 10,000 Fed-Soc hacks as a force for good in public life, and it’s a shame there aren’t networks of billionaires eager to elevate more KBJs to the highest court in the land.
Like Ron DeSantis, Ketanji Brown Jackson grew up in Florida, and both went to Harvard Law School. From there, their paths diverged sharply. In a sense, they represent a fork in the road for America too. One path leads to ignorance, hate and division while the other bends toward truth, knowledge and reconciliation. I hope we choose wisely.