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Judge Janice Rogers Brown was not a Supreme Court nominee

March 26, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Former Judge Janice Rogers Brown was the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, but she was blocked by then-senator Joe Biden.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Brown was never nominated to the Supreme Court. Biden and other Democratic senators blocked Brown’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2003, although she was confirmed two years later.

THE FACTS: As Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson faced questions from the Senate Judiciary committee this week, social media users spread the false claim that Jackson was not actually the first Black woman nominated to the high court.

An image shared widely on Twitter and Facebook shows a photo of Janice Rogers Brown, alongside the text: “FRAUD: It was Republicans who nominated the 1st Black woman to the SCOTUS & she was BLOCKED & filibustered by … wait for it ….. Joe Biden. Media: Crickets.” The image was posted by many social media users with over 2,000 shares on one Facebook post, and 20,000 likes on one Twitter post.

“Joe Biden blocked the first black female U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee back in 2003. Biden filibustered her nomination. Judge Janice Rogers Brown was her name. Never forget it,” reads another post on Twitter.

But Brown was never nominated to the Supreme Court. Instead, Democratic senators, including Biden, opposed and filibustered Brown’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2003.

The Associated Press reported at the time that Democrats believed Brown – who was then an associate justice on the California Supreme Court was too conservative and claimed she ignored the law in favor of her own political views.

She was renominated to the court in June, 2005, and this time was confirmed in a 56-43 vote after seven Democrats and seven Republicans signed a pact pledging not to filibuster judicial nominees except in “extraordinary” circumstances, according to AP reporting at the time. Biden still voted against her.

Two months later, on July 1, 2005, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement and Brown was reportedly on Bush’s short list as a replacement. In a July 3 interview, Biden told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that if Bush nominated Brown she “probably would be filibustered” and it would be a “very, very, very difficult fight.”

But it never came to pass, as Bush nominated judge John Roberts to replace O’Connor. Chief Justice William Rehnquist then passed away, and Roberts was instead re-nominated and confirmed to fill his seat instead. Bush then nominated Harriet Miers, the White House Counsel at the time, for O’Connor’s seat, but Miers withdrew after bipartisan backlash, the AP reported. Bush finally nominated judge Samuel Alito, who was confirmed in January, 2006.

Brown retired from the bench in 2017 and she was recently a jurist-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley.

Brown’s name came up several times throughout Jackson’s Senate confirmation hearing this week, with some Republican senators claiming Brown would have made it to the Supreme Court if her confirmation to the lower court hadn’t been blocked initially.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.