Don’t expect much light on this subject from the four days of confirmation hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee that begin March 21. Following well established precedent set by other Supreme Court nominees, Jackson is expected to announce that she firmly supports Goodness, Truth, and Beauty and thinks the U.S. Constitution is just swell. Concerning specific questions she will face as a member of the Supreme Court she’ll stay mum.
Years back, Jackson clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, author of the majority opinions in all the court’s major abortion cases of the last two decades. Aside from the most obvious differences--gender and race--the most significant difference between Breyer and Jackson is age. He is 83 and she is 51, which will make her the court’s second youngest member after Justice Amy Coney Barret, who is 50.
Breyer will formally retire when the court’s current term ends in late June, and Jackson, presumably confirmed by then, will immediately succeed him. Barring the unexpected, it’s a good bet that once on the Supreme Court, she will remain there for the next quarter century or more.
As an associate justice she will be part of a three-woman liberal minority composed of herself, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. The six other justices, generally described as conservatives, are Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Barrett.
Jackson will be joining the court shortly after it announces its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The outcome in that closely watched case, involving a Mississippi law barring virtually all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, is widely expected either to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion, or at least to permit meaningful state restrictions on the practice.
Either way, the court will face a slew of new cases involving new state enactments. Anticipating a favorable outcome in Dobbs, prolife state legislatures have already adopted dozens of new laws setting limits on abortion and there are more to come if the Supreme Court does as expected. Challenges to those laws will keep Jackson and her colleagues occupied for years.