Risa Goluboff, dean of the School of Law, testified Thursday at Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s final confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court. An expert in constitutional and civil rights law, Goluboff spoke personally before the Senate Judiciary Committee and praised Jackson’s extensive legal experience and pragmatic legal approach.
Jackson was nominated by President Joe Biden following the retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. Her potential for the Supreme Court Justice position was previously considered by former president Barack Obama during his presidency to fill the spot of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, eventually falling short to Judge Merrick Garland.
Speaking highly of Jackon’s background, Goluboff told the Committee her vast experience in legal theory demonstrates her dedication to the fair process of justice.
“[Jackson’s] robust embrace of every lawyer’s obligation to serve the public, but also to her commitment to the rule of law in an adversarial system in which every party is entitled, and criminal defendants are constitutionally entitled, to zealous advocacy,” Goluboff said.
A primary concern raised during the hearings has been Jackson’s perceived bias in handling court precedents. Instead of treating some “super-precedent” cases with greater weight — such as the often criticized precedent supporting abortion rights decided in the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade — Jackson signaled that all Supreme Court cases are equally binding.
Goluboff emphasized this deep respect for precedent in her testimony, arguing the political affiliation of her nominator should not be assumed to be an influence in how she will decide cases.
“What remains constant … is Judge Jackson’s commitment to applying precedents to the facts before her, maintaining procedural consistency, reasoning with common sense and humanity and doing justice for the parties consistent with the rule of law,” Goluboff said. “These place her in the heartland and the mainstream of the American judicial tradition.”
Goluboff ended her testimony with a personal connection between herself and Jackson, whom she has known personally and professionally since 1998. Both women once clerked for Breyer, who Jackson is intended to succeed, and Goluboff’s husband, Law Prof. Richard Schragger, served on the Harvard Law Review with Jackson in the 1990s.
Goluboff then drew connections between Breyer and Jackson, saying both are deeply patriotic — a quality they received from family members working in public service — and that they share a desire to hear others’ opinions and find common ground.
“The appetite for dialogue, optimism, open minded and open heartedness, and joy,” Goluboff said. “If you confirm Judge Jackson, as I urge you to do, those virtues, both personal and judicial, will indeed remain with the Court, much to the benefit of us all.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misspelled Dean Risa Goluboff's name. The article has been updated to reflect the correction.