Saying she is “exceptionally well-qualified,” sixteen full and part-time faculty members from Brigham Young University’s law school sent a letter to Republican and Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate on Thursday arguing for Ketanji Brown Jackson to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
“Judge Jackson’s academic achievement, extensive practice and judicial experience, and broad bipartisan support would make her a distinguished appointment to the court,” they wrote.
The letter is surprising if only for the J. Reuben Clark Law School’s reputation as one of the most conservative in the U.S. In 2020, Above the Law ranked BYU second on the list of law schools with the most conservative students.
During her confirmation hearing this week, Jackson tangled with Sen. Mike Lee — an alumnus of BYU’s law school —over her rulings on cases involving child pornography as well as public lands and abortion. Lee graduated from BYU Law in 1997.
If confirmed, Jackson would be the first Black woman to sit on the court. During her career, she’s served on the United States Sentencing Commission and was appointed as a U.S. District Court judge in 2013. She was also appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2021.
Brown has also spent time in both the public and private sectors, working as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C.
That experience is a primary reason the BYU faculty members are supportive of her nomination. Another factor they cite is broad support for her nomination from across the political and social spectrum, noting retired Judge Thomas Griffith, the former general counsel for BYU who served on the D.C. Circut, has endorsed Jackson’s confirmation.
“Former U.S. Attorneys and Department of Justice Officials from both parties endorsed her nomination, noting the even-handedness of her rulings while a federal district judge; she’s endorsed as well by former Republican and Democratic Attorneys General from more than 40 states and territories,” they write.
Finally, the faculty says Jackson’s record on religious freedom deserves praise. Jackson ruled in favor of a plaintiff who alleged he was the victim of religious discrimination after a manager disciplined him for playing gospel music at his workstation while his co-workers were allowed to play secular music.
“Though we do not believe that religious faith should be a test for any federal office, as faculty at a law school whose sponsoring church endured persecution by the federal government, we find it worthy of note that Judge Jackson understands and values the freedom of religion,” they wrote.
The full Senate will vote on Jackson’s nomination April 4.
Editor’s note • This story is available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers only. Thank you for supporting local journalism.