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SNL celebrates Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation

The cold open for “Saturday Night Live” on April 9 saw Supreme Court Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson interacting with notable figures from U.S. history. (Video: Justin Scuiletti/The Washington Post)
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“Saturday Night Live” celebrated this week’s confirmation of Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson — which made her the first Black woman on the Supreme Court — in both the cold open and on “Weekend Update,” striking a more commemorative tone in place of its usual absurdism.

Saturday’s show kicked off with Jackson, played by Ego Nwodim, conferring with President Biden, played James Austin Johnson, in the Oval Office. It finds Biden proud both of keeping at least one of his 75 campaign promises and correctly pronouncing her name. Jackson teases him by saying, “Betcha can’t say that three times fast.” He responds: “I’m shocked I was able to say it one time slow.”

"I was happy to do my part: Work twice as hard as a White man my entire life and then spend a week listening to Ted Cruz call me a pedophile,” Jackson replies.

Biden leaves Jackson alone in the hallowed room to reflect on history. Soon, she’s joined by the spirits of others who broke barriers: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Kate McKinnon reprising one of her more beloved SNL characters; Thurgood Marshall (Kenan Thompson), Harriet Tubman (Punkie Johnson) and Jackie Robinson (Chris Redd). They all have advice for the new justice.

Ginsburg suggests Jackson label her lunches as some justices have “sticky fingers” and that “White ladies are gonna start wearing buttons of your face like an ‘I voted’ sticker. It’s freaky, but they mean well.” Marshall learns that the more things change, the more they stay the same. “Is there a threat of nuclear war with Russia?” he asks, incredulous. “Inflation still poppin’ off? Is Joe Biden still a politician?” Robinson, who suggests Jackson watch out for batteries — the crowd used to throw objects on the field when Robinson broke the baseball color line — finds himself as shocked as Marshall when he learns how inflated the salaries of Major League Baseball players are these days. “So even the bad players are millionaires?” he asks.

Tubman, meanwhile, is worried that they’re in trouble: “What are we doing in the White House?” Jackson explains that “because of the bravery of women like you, a lot of doors opened up to a lot of people. I’m on the Supreme Court. I have a seat at the table. And I’m going to have this job for the rest of my life.” (“Sounds like a trap!” Tubman quips.)

The show’s “Weekend Update” segment also led with the new justice. “The Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson, making her the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court,” Jost began. “ ‘I’ll drink to that,’ said Brett Kavanaugh.”

Jost continued: “Justice Jackson was honored Friday at a White House ceremony and said, ‘We have come a long way toward perfecting our Union.’ Which is a direct quote from Ben Affleck’s proposal to J. Lo.”

“Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, who wants everyone to cool it with the long-neck jokes, said he believes Supreme Court Justice Jackson would have defended the Nazis,” he added. “Worse, he meant it as a compliment.”