By COLIN STAUB
Top national union leaders are applauding President Joe Biden’s pick of Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Jackson served as a law clerk for Justice Breyer and as assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C. She was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by President Barack Obama in 2012, and to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Biden in 2021.
Labor leaders point to decisions she made in federal court as signs she’ll side with unions and working people on the Supreme Court.
One example was an August 2018 ruling overturning executive orders by President Donald Trump that limited the amount of paid time federal workers could spend acting as union reps, “streamlined” the process for firing federal workers, and required faster contract negotiations. American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and other unions had sued to block the orders. Brown wrote that the orders “effectively reduce the scope of the right to bargain collectively as Congress has crafted it, or impair the ability of agency officials to bargain in good faith as Congress has directed, and therefore cannot be sustained.” Jackson’s ruling was reversed in appeals court, and the orders were implemented, but were repealed by President Biden in January 2021.
Then on Feb. 1, 2022, Jackson struck down a 2020 decision by a federal agency that limited federal employee collective bargaining rights. The Federal Labor Relations Authority, which regulates labor policy for many federal agencies, raised the threshold for when federal workplace changes require management to bargain with a union. Unions representing federal workers sued, and the case made it to the D.C. Circuit appeals court. The court sided with the unions. Jackson wrote in the decision that the FLRA’s reasoning was “arbitrary and capricious.”
“Prior judicial rulings show [Jackson] will affirm the rights of regular American workers and everyday citizens while holding accountable those who break the law—even the most powerful among us,” said AFGE president Everett Kelley in praise of Jackson’s supreme court nomination.
Other labor organizations issuing statements of support for the nomination included the AFL-CIO, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), AFSCME, AFT, AFGE, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, IBEW, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), Iron Workers, Machinists, Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), United Auto Workers (UAW), UNITE HERE, and United Steelworkers (USW).
Jackson was named as Supreme Court nominee Feb. 25. Her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee are set to begin March 21.