(PresidentialHill.com)- During her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson told Republican Senator Ted Cruz that she would recuse herself from the lawsuit on Harvard’s discrimination against Asian applicants that will come before the Court this fall.
Jackson currently sits on Harvard’s Board of Overseers, one of two university governing boards, leading many to question her possible conflict of interest in the case.
In the lawsuit before the Supreme Court, Harvard University has been accused of discriminating against Asian applicants as a way to balance the racial make-up of each admitted class. The suit also calls on the Court to overturn precedents that permit race-based admissions.
The Harvard suit is bundled with a similar case against the University of North Carolina. If the two cases are separated, Judge Jackson may be able to participate in the UNC case.
Recusals are uncommon at the Supreme Court. Those that do occur are generally in cases involving a relative or a direct financial conflict.
Some had pushed for Jackson’s recusal based on an ethics rule that disqualifies a judge when “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” However, that standard is typically invoked for partisan reasons by opponents attempting a hail-Mary argument to force a Justice to recuse.
It is unclear whether the Board of Overseers plays any role in Harvard’s admissions policy. However, last fall, Ketanji Brown Jackson moderated a panel along with university President Lawrence Bacow on advancing racial diversity at Harvard.
While Congress has written ethics rules for federal judges, these rules are not binding on the US Supreme Court. Some have argued that the Legislative branch cannot constitutionally pass binding ethics rules on the Judicial branch.
In previous confirmation hearings, nominees have declined to commit to recusal in advance, promising instead to follow ethics guidelines in good faith.
Watch the exchange between Senator Cruz and Ketanji Brown Jackson:
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson says, if confirmed, she plans to recuse herself from Supreme Court case involving Harvard’s use of race as a factor in admission policies since she is on the university’s Board of Overseers. https://t.co/WTud7VJPVX pic.twitter.com/9gON966Jhc
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 24, 2022