INDIANAPOLIS — The Senate is expected to move quickly on a confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
On Friday, Senator Joe Manchin said he intends to vote for Jackson, all but securing her spot on the bench.
"She will be the only justice who has been actually been a public defender, who has seen the other side of criminal law," said Steve Sanders, a law professor at IU's Maurer School of Law.
Her nomination and potential seat on the country's highest court is historic. How she may vote on key issues facing the Supreme Court is less than certain, according to legal experts.
"She's clearly well-equipped to do the job," Sanders said.
Sanders said Jackson brings with her a wealth of qualifications in her nomination to the nation's highest court.
She has served as vice chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, worked as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and an appeals court judge for the D.C. Circuit.
Her work, Sanders said, is extensive, but how she may vote as one of the nation’s top justices may be hard to predict.
"She's not been an academic, she's not been a professor, she has not been a court of appeals judge for a long time and those are the kinds of positions where you kind of work out an ideology, a judicial philosophy. She really hasn't had the opportunity to do that, so I suspect she will be one of the more middle of the road justices," Sanders said.
Unlike many of the other recently appointed Supreme Court justices, Jackson's background has mostly been spent applying the law, not making it. How far left, right, or center she'll lean on key issues before the court isn't clear.
"I think she will be one to watch because we don't have a lot of clues or a lot of signals about how she's going to rule about a spectrum of issues," Sanders said. “Being an appellate judge gives you more opportunity to actually stake out, to make law, not just apply law. She’s been a trial judge, she’s been a district judge, so the kinds of positions she has held have not lent themselves by and large to having a lot of predictive value as to how she’s likely to approach certain issues.”
But, Sanders said, it's Jackson's background and experiences on her way to the bench that will give her a unique perspective, one not yet seen on the nation's highest court.
"Her personal story as the first African American woman on the court, the first or, at least, the only current justice who has done work as a public defender, who has had members who are police officers, all of those I think will contribute to bringing a pretty unique picture that she's going to bring to the court," he said.