Former Judge Janice Rogers Brown Was Not Nominated to the Supreme Court

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Quick Take

Republicans did not nominate former Judge Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Supreme Court. A Facebook post falsely claims that Brown — not Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson — was the first Black woman to be nominated to the nation’s highest court.


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On Feb. 25, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced in late January that he will retire from the U.S. Supreme Court. If confirmed, Jackson would become the first Black woman to serve on the country’s highest court.

But a Facebook post claims that it actually was Biden who previously blocked the confirmation of the first Black female Supreme Court nominee.

“It was Republicans who nominated the 1st Black woman to the SCOTUS & she was BLOCKED & filibustered by … wait for it ….. Joe Biden,” the post, which included a photo of Janice Rogers Brown, reads.

A caption accompanying the post says: “Notice the Fake Fact-Checkers are not fact-checking the Left when they keep saying Judge Jackson is the first black woman to be nominated—making history? Her name is Janice Rogers Brown.”

That’s false. Brown was never nominated to serve on the Supreme Court.

Democrats, including then-Sen. Joe Biden, did initially filibuster Brown when then-President George W. Bush first nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2003. Democrats were opposed to Brown because of her conservative views on several subjects.

But in May 2005, after a group of 14 Democrats and Republicans reached a bipartisan agreement not to filibuster judicial nominees except under “extraordinary circumstances,” Brown’s nomination to the appellate court was allowed to proceed and she was confirmed in a 56-43 vote. Biden voted against her.

Brown also was reportedly on the short list of potential picks to replace then-Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who announced her plans to resign from the Supreme Court early in July 2005. But Bush did not nominate Brown.

He first nominated Judge John Roberts, but later decided to nominate Roberts to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died in September 2005. Then Bush nominated Harriet Miers, his White House counsel, to replace O’Connor, but her nomination faced backlash and she had her name withdrawn from consideration. Bush ultimately picked Judge Samuel Alito Jr., who was confirmed as O’Connor’s replacement in a 58-42 vote in January 2006.

Months prior to Alito’s nomination, Biden had let it be known that Democrats would likely try to block Brown’s ascension to the high court.

In a July 3, 2005, interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Biden said that if Bush picked Brown as the nominee, “I can assure you that would be a very, very, very difficult fight, and she probably would be filibustered.” The Supreme Court is a “totally different ball game” from the appellate court, Biden said.

Republicans convinced the Bush White House not to nominate Brown for the high court because she was seen as “too controversial” at the time, ABC News reported.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.  

Sources

Greenburg, Jan Crawford. “Democrats threaten another judicial filibuster.” Chicago Tribune. 7 Nov 2003.

Senators compromise on filibusters.” CNN.com. 24 May 2005.

U.S. Senate. Supreme Court Nominations (1789-Present). Senate.gov. Accessed 25 Mar 2022.

CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Transcript. 3 Jul 2005.

Greenburg, Jan Crawford. “EXCLUSIVE: Women, Minorities Top Bush’s Supreme Court Short List.” ABC News. 4 Jun 2007.

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