Jackson Has Day 1 Questions

Newest justice follows line of thought similar to Kagan and Sotomayor in wetlands case
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2022 4:20 PM CDT
Jackson Has Day 1 Questions
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, left, is joined by her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, following her formal investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court in Washington on Friday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was not just seated on the Supreme Court on Monday, she was a full participant in the business at hand. Jackson asked several questions during almost two hours of arguments on Monday, at the beginning of her first day on the job as an associate justice, in a case concerning the government's ability to regulate wetlands, NBC News reports. Following the custom of seniority, Jackson took her seat at the far right of the bench, as seen from the gallery, next to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, per the Hill. Chief Justice John Roberts sits in the middle of the row.

Jackson's questions Monday were along the lines of those asked by two colleagues appointed by a Democratic president, Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, per NBC. The case is a dispute between the Environmental Protection Agency and Idaho landowners. "Let me try to bring some enlightenment to it," Jackson said at one point, trying to get to the crux of the issue involving the reach of the Clean Water Act. "You say the question is which wetlands are covered, which I agree with," she said, addressing a lawyer for the property owners. “But I guess my question is, why would Congress draw the coverage line between abutting wetlands and neighboring wetlands when the objective of the statute is to ensure the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters?"

The day was historic beyond the seating of the court's first Black woman. It also was the first time that four women were on the bench as justices. And it was the first time since the pandemic struck in March 2020 that the public was allowed into the courtroom. Jackson may have already passed Justice Clarence Thomas in posing questions in hearings. In 2019, Thomas asked just his second question in 13 years. He once went more than 10 years without questioning a lawyer in court. (More Ketanji Brown Jackson stories.)

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