The Volokh Conspiracy

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Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson Says She Intends to Recuse from Harvard Admissions Case if Confirmed

While some legal ethics experts suggest recusal would not be necessary, the SCOTUS nominee suggested she thinks otherwise.


There has been some question as to whether Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson should recuse from Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College if confirmed to the Supreme Court. The case challenges Harvard University's use of race in admissions and will be heard by the Supreme Court next fall. I discussed the issue in a post earlier this month.

Earlier today, Judge Jackson told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she planned to recuse from the case if confirmed. When asked specifically whether she would recuse by Senator Ted Cruz, the nominee responded "That is my plan Senator."

As I noted in my prior post, Jackson's recusal may not affect the outcome of the case. Because Harvard prevailed below, the petitioners need five votes to prevail, and few expect a Justice Jackson would be inclined in their favor. Whether Jackson recuses or not, Harvard will need to attract the votes of at least two of the Court's six conservative justices to prevail.