Today at noon, Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the first Black female justice on the Supreme Court. Before Justice Brown took her oath, the court also signaled the end of the federal government as we know it. In the past, the Supreme Court has operated on the basis of “stare decisis,” which literally means “to stand by things decided.” The purpose of that principle is to make changes incrementally so the law stays consistent and evenly applied, which promotes social stability. On occasion, the court does break precedent, notably in 1954 with the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision, which overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision that rubber stamped racial segregation. When that sort of a major change happens, both the court and elected officials work hard to explain that they are changing the law to make it more in line with our Constitution, and to move people along with that change.
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