University of Illinois Chicago School of Law students cut their Spring Break short this year for a chance to meet with the nation’s second-highest-ranking Senate Democrat. With the nation still focused on the historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) visited UIC Law to speak with students about the then-ongoing confirmation process.
Following four days of judicial hearings in Washington, Durbin was welcomed back to UIC Law on Friday, March 25, by Associate Dean Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb. After brief remarks detailing his career as a U.S. senator and the impact of current politics on the proceedings, the senator took questions from law students deeply invested in the vote yet to come.
“Seeing her up there, it’s a reminder that somebody like me is uninhibited, I have the opportunity to do that. The Supreme Court is something that I can aspire to,” said Kelly Baker, a UIC Law student.
For many in attendance, this was their first opportunity to meet Senator Durbin, who has visited UIC Law on a number of occasions in recent years, including as commencement speaker in 2017. But for 3L Brandy Johnson, Secretary of UIC Law’s Student Bar Association and one of Sen. Durbin’s law clerks this semester, the senator’s visit held an added personal importance.
“Due to the COVID pandemic, law school has been anything but normal, but being a part of Senator Durbin’s team during this glass-ceiling-shattering moment in history has been amazing,” said Johnson. “He was the first Illinois senator for whom I voted, and now, coming full circle, through him, I have been a part of history, in making a first happen.”
“I am the first person in my family to attend law school, and I am a member of the first class admitted to Chicago’s first and only public law school. Now, I am one of the senator’s law clerks as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes the first Black woman and the first public defender to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. I am so grateful and humbled to have had this experience.”
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court on April 7, 2022, by a Senate vote of 53-47.
Watch the full event on UIC Law’s YouTube channel: