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Local law school students, professor, reacts to confirmation of Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Posted at 9:33 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 22:31:50-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — History was made this week, as Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the senate to be the next justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Jackson will be the first black woman to serve on the high court—it's a landmark appointment that's inspiring other women of color pursuing careers in law, including two here in West Michigan.

Kate Vassell and Frances Silney-Bah are both students at Western Michigan University's Cooley Law School. For Kate, it runs in the family, as her mother and late grandfather were both attorneys.

"It was actually one of the last conversations I had with my grandfather before he passed away," Vassell said. "I told him I was going to go to law school."

For Frances, she's dreamed of being a lawyer since she was a child. She says it was instilled in her by her immigrant parents, as they encourage her to pursue something meaningful.

That dream was solidified during a Summer of protests.

"I participated in the protests after George Floyd, that was when it clicked for me that I could really help people who are not always supported for the criminal justice system," Silney-Bah said.

Seeing Judge Jackson being confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court made them both realize anything is possible.

Mark Dotson is their professor. He says the historical moment was one he know would eventually happen, he just didn't when.

"She will undeniably make the court better," Dotson said. "You go from being a public defender to a district court judge circuit court judge and now the Supreme Court?...We got a lot of folks who’ve been told that they can’t do stuff and for them this kind of shakes that notion up."

Silney-Bah is thrilled that Judge Jackson is not only inspiring her, but future generations of black woman who want to go into law.

"I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud to be a black woman than I felt yesterday," Silney-Bah. "Today I feel so overjoyed, this is an incredible moment and the sky is the limit."

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