When Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson made her opening statement at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing, she introduced the public to members of her “large extended family” as she thanked many of them for their support.
Americans learned about Jackson’s qualifications and experiences while Senators took turns questioning her during four days of hearings on Capitol Hill. But throughout the week, viewers also witnessed the judge’s family sitting behind her each day, and saw the tremendous impact they’ve had on Jackson’s life.
Jackson, who could become the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, credited her father for inspiring her to pursue law, as he became a full-time law student when she was 4 years old. “My very earliest memories are of watching my father study—he had his stack of law books on the kitchen table while I sat across from him with my stack of coloring books.” During that time, Jackson said her mother “pulled double duty” as both a parent and the family’s sole earner.
Jackson’s husband, Patrick Jackson, and their two children, Leila and Talia, sat behind her throughout the week. Jackson spoke of the “unconditional love” she shares with her husband, and said to her daughters: “I am so looking forward to seeing what each of you chooses to do with your amazing lives in this incredible country.”
Here’s a look at some of Jackson’s family members as they gave their support to her during the hearings.
This photo of Leila Jackson looking at her mother with pride on Mar. 21 has come to represent many things since it went viral online, including what Jackson's historic nomination means for young women of color. When Leila was 11 years old, she wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to nominate her mother to the Supreme Court.
Sarahbeth Maney—The New York Times/Redux
Patrick Jackson reaches over to take his wife’s hand during her confirmation hearing on March 21. Ketanji Jackson said she and her husband have an “unconditional love”—the couple met in college and have been married for 25 years. “I have no doubt that, without him by my side from the very beginning of this incredible professional journey, none of this would have been possible,” Jackson said in her opening statement. “Patrick, I love you.” As she spoke to him, Patrick wiped away a tear.
Ketajh Brown, Ketanji's brother, sits with their parents Johnny and Ellery Brown during a moment of downtime on Tuesday. "My parents also instilled in me—and in my younger brother Ketajh—the importance of public service," Jackson said in her opening statement. She added that after Ketajh graduated from Howard University, he became a police officer, and joined the Army after the 9/11 attacks. He served two tours in the Middle East as an infantry officer.
Julia Nikhinson—Bloomberg/Getty Images
Patrick Jackson's fashion choices made a small splash as the week progressed. For the first three days, his multicolor socks featured different notable Americans: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy.
Win McNamee—Getty Images; Andrew Harnik—AP; Bill Clark—CQ Roll Call/AP
Leila Jackson, center, and Talia Jackson, right, look at their father Patrick Jackson during the hearing on March 21. Jackson gave her daughters a special message during her opening statement that day: "Girls, I know it has not been easy as I have tried to navigate the challenges of juggling my career and motherhood. And I fully admit that I did not always get the balance right," she said. "But I hope that you have seen that with hard work, determination, and love, it can be done."
Sarahbeth Maney—The New York Times/Redux
At the end of the day on March 23, Jackson received a kiss from her husband. Much of Patrick's side of the family, including his brothers, their spouses, and his parents, also came to support Jackson in person. And Jackson thanked her family members that could not be present as well: "There are so many others who are not here today, but who I need to acknowledge," she said. "I have a large extended family, on both sides; they are watching from Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, and beyond."