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Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Speaks More Than Any Other Justice On Week 1

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Ketanji Brown Jackson, the primary Black woman on the Supreme Court and its newest justice, said before the term began that she was “able to work.” She made that clear during arguments within the opening cases.

The tally: 4,568 words spoken over nearly six hours this past week, about 50% greater than any of the eight other justices, in keeping with Adam Feldman, the creator of the Empirical SCOTUS blog.

The justices as an entire are generally a talkative bunch, questioning lawyers in rapid succession. For now, Jackson’s approach seems less like Justice Clarence Thomas, who once went 10 years without asking an issue, and more like Justice Neil Gorsuch, who in his first yr was one among the more energetic questioners.

On Tuesday, in a case that would weaken the landmark Voting Rights Act, which sought to bar racial discrimination in voting, Jackson was particularly vocal.

At one point, she spoke uninterrupted for greater than three and a half minutes to put out her understanding of the history of the post-Civil War 14th Amendment to the Structure guaranteeing formerly enslaved people equal rights. Jackson’s statement ran three transcript pages, the longest Feldman could remember ever seeing.

“I can’t consider a time where you’ve seen a junior justice grasp the arguments” to the identical extent, Feldman said using the court’s shorthand title for the latest justice.

Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court pose for his or her “class photo” on Friday.

OLIVIER DOULIERY via Getty Images

A jurist with a liberal record, Jackson joined a court where conservatives hold a 6-3 advantage, so in lots of probably the most most contentious cases her vote likely doesn’t matter to the end result. But her performance during arguments looked as if it would show she intends to make herself heard.

“I actually have a seat on the table now and I’m able to work,” she said last week at an appearance on the Library of Congress following her ceremonial investiture on the high court.

In three of the 4 cases the court heard this past week, she was probably the most energetic speaker among the many justices.

Feldman said recent justices often sit back and take things in but “poke their heads up occasionally” to ask an issue. “This was a special approach,” he said.

Monday was the court’s opening day and Jackson’s first on the Supreme Court bench. The justices were about five minutes into their questioning in what turned out to be a virtually two-hour argument in a dispute over the nation’s principal anti-water pollution law when Jackson asked her first query; she was the fourth justice to accomplish that.

By the top of arguments, she had probed the meaning of the word “adjoining,” asked whether a marsh in a 1985 case was “visually indistinguishable from the abutting creek” and prefaced one other query by saying: “Let me attempt to bring some enlightenment to it by asking it this manner.”

Jackson was confirmed in April but didn’t take her seat until the court began its summer recess in June, giving her months to review cases the court had granted. Other justices spent a few of that point finalizing opinions in cases that included decisions overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights case and expanding gun rights.

Speaking on the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in early April, days before Jackson was confirmed, Justice Amy Coney Barrett noted “fortunately there shall be some lead time” for the brand new justice to ease into her role. Barrett, in contrast, heard her first arguments per week after she was confirmed. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in on a Saturday and heard his first argument the next Tuesday.

Justices themselves have acknowledged it takes time to get used to sitting on the best court within the land. Justice Elena Kagan once compared starting the job to “drinking out of a fireplace hose” with a learning curve that “is amazingly steep, sometimes it seems vertical.” Some justices have said it takes five years to feel really comfortable within the role.

In her Library of Congress appearance, Jackson talked concerning the attention on her as the primary Black woman to be a justice. People approach her with “what I can only describe as a profound sense of pride and what feels to me like renewed ownership,” she said.

Their message to her is “in essence, ‘You go, girl,”’ Jackson said. “They’re saying, ‘Invisible no more. We see you and we’re with you.’”

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