Following Questioning from Padilla, Judge Jackson Shares Her Advice to Young Americans on Perseverance

Padilla questions Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on the third day of her confirmation hearing to become the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Padilla and Judge Jackson shared a powerful exchange around advice she would give to young people watching her hearing and confirmation process. Padilla referenced his visit to South San Francisco High School last week to discuss the historic nomination of Judge Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court.


  • PADILLA: Last Friday, in my preparation for these hearings, I took the opportunity to spend some time with a group of students at South San Francisco high school. […] As I was speaking with the students, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own high school experience, when one of my teachers discouraged me from applying to MIT, because they didn’t want me to be disappointed.

    On behalf of the young people I visited with last Friday, in South San Francisco and for the many others across the country, who are watching this confirmation hearing today: What would you say, Judge Jackson, to all those young Americans, the most diverse generation in our nation’s history—What do you say to some of them who may doubt that they can one day achieve the same great heights that you have?
  • JACKSON: Thank you, Senator. That was very moving and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to young people. I appreciate it very much. I do it a lot. For the reasons that you have articulated. I hope to inspire people to try to follow this path because I love this country, because I love the law, because I think it is important that we all invest in our future and the young people are the future. And so I want them to know that they can do and be anything.

    And I’ll just say that I will tell them what an anonymous person said to me once—I was walking through Harvard Yard my freshman year. As I mentioned, I went to public school and I didn’t know anything about Harvard until my debate coach took me there to enter a speech competition and I thought this is a great university. It was basically one of the only ones I’d seen and I said, maybe I’ll apply when I’m a senior. But I get there, and whoa, so different. I’m from Miami, Florida. Boston is very cold. It was rough. It was different from anything I’d known. There were lots of students there who were prep school kids, like my husband, who knew all about knew all about Harvard. And that was not me. And I think the first semester I was really homesick; I was really questioning: Do I belong here? Can I, can I make it in this environment? And I was walking through the yard in the evening and a black woman I did not know was passing me on the sidewalk, and she looked at me, and I guess she knew how I was feeling. And she leaned over as we crossed and said “persevere.”

    I would tell them to persevere.

Padilla also questioned Judge Jackson on the importance of treating immigrants with dignity and humanity and about the importance of the language we use in our immigration system. Padilla also addressed the challenges that courts at every level face in addressing cases involving new and emerging technologies.

Video of Padilla’s full 20-minute questioning is available here and can be downloaded here.

Additional photos from the hearings can be found here.


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