US Supreme Court nominee could be keynote speaker at Alaska lawyers’ convention

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaking from behind a lectern
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks as an honoree at the Third Annual Judge James B. Parsons Legacy Dinner on Feb. 24, 2020, at the University of Chicago Law School. Before her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Jackson committed to be the keynote speaker at the Alaska Bar Association’s convention in October 2022. (Creative Commons photo by Lloyd DeGrane)

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson committed in December to be the headliner at the Alaska Bar Association’s annual convention. That was before her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court

“As of right now, we’re still very hopeful that she’ll be able to speak and be our keynote speaker,” said Danielle Bailey, executive director of the lawyers organization. “However, we understand that her schedule may have changed quite a bit.”

Bailey said the bar association is happy to find a way to make it work. 

Before the nomination, Bailey said the association had suggested a few topics for Jackson to speak about. 

“Her journey as both a mother and a judge. She also just has incredible experience, particularly with the sentencing commission that she was involved with,” Bailey said. “But I’m sure now we would love to hear about her evolution to potentially being the first Black woman Justice of the Supreme Court.”

If Jackson gets through the Senate confirmation process, she’ll be a full member of the Supreme Court by the time the bar association convention begins in Anchorage on Oct. 26.

There is precedent for sitting justices to speak to Alaska’s legal community. Bailey said that Jackson could be at least the eighth Supreme Court justice to speak to the bar association since 2001. Past justices include Stephen Breyer in 2001, Antonin Scalia in 2003, Sandra Day O’Connor in 2005, John Roberts in 2007, Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2008, Samuel Alito in 2009 and most recently Sonia Sotomayor in 2016.  

Generally, only members of the bar association can attend its events, though exceptions are possible. 

“I know in the past, we’ve opened up some of our programs to those beyond our legal community, particularly when they’re such large interest like this may be, so that’s something that we’ll consider,” Bailey said.  

For the judge, Bailey said the speaking engagement is not a paid gig. 

“Often, judges aren’t able to accept any compensation. And so all we do is pay for flights and accommodation,” she said. 

Jackson is currently one of 11 judges in the District of Columbia Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

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Jeremy Hsieh is the deputy managing editor of the KTOO newsroom in Juneau. He’s a podcast fiend who’s worked in journalism since high school as a reporter, editor and television producer. He ran Gavel Alaska for 360 North from 2011 to 2016, and is big on experimenting with novel tools and mediums (including the occasional animated gif) to tell stories and demystify the news. Jeremy’s an East Coast transplant who moved to Juneau in 2008.

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