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Supreme Court Nominee Announces Plans to Recuse Herself from Harvard’s Race-Conscious Admission Policy Case

Mar 25, 2022

Wednesday, March 23rd marked the third day of confirmation hearings for new Supreme Court Nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, as reported by the Harvard Crimson. Judge Jackson, who is currently serving on the Board of Overseers at Harvard, was questioned about her ties to Harvard as they relate to its affirmative action case. In response, Jackson said she “plans” to recuse herself from the Harvard admissions case. This marks the judge’s first announcement that she plans to recuse herself from a case.

Judge Jackson has extensive ties to Harvard, notes the Crimson, as she graduated from Harvard College in ‘92, then Harvard Law School in ‘96, and has a daughter in the Class of 2026. Further, she had previously recused herself from two other related cases as a lower court judge “due to her role on Harvard’s governing board.” Despite this declaration, experts agree that Jackson’s recusal will not significantly affect the outcome of the case since the court already has a conservative majority.

According to Forbes, the case against affirmative action policies at Harvard and UNC is projected to be evaluated this fall, after Jackson is “likely” confirmed. Further, Judge Clarence Thomas has also faced similar appeals to recuse himself from the Harvard case due to his wife’s role on the board of the National Association of Scholars, a group that supported the challengers through an amicus brief.

Interestingly enough, the Crimson explains that Jackson’s statement does not necessarily mean that she will also be recusing herself from the UNC cases, as the conflict of interest only exists for Harvard. The Crimson quotes Noah R. Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor, as stating that the courts will likely divide the cases so that Jackson can participate in the UNC case.

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