U.S. Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court

President Joe Biden and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson watch as the Senate votes to confirm Jackson to the Supreme Court, from the Rosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on Thursday, April 7, 2022. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

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President Joe Biden and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson watch as the Senate votes to confirm Jackson to the Supreme Court, from the Rosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on Thursday, April 7, 2022. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s appointment to become the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Three Republicans sided with all 50 Democrats in the 53-47 decision: Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah.

Prior to the vote, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock delivered a floor speech in which he spoke about the historic nature of Jackson’s confirmation.

» Watch live video of the confirmation below:

Warnock noted that voters in Georgia helped make Jackson’s appointment possible by flipping control of the Senate and making it easier for President Joe Biden to make good on a campaign promise. That gave him additional joy to see it come to fruition, the Atlanta Democrat said.

“Yes, I’m a senator, I’m a pastor. Beyond all of that, I’m a father of a young Black girl,” Warnock said. “I know how much it means for Judge Jackson to have navigated the double jeopardy of racism and sexism to now stand in the glory of this moment in all of her excellence.”

U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson and Lucy McBath were among the Black Caucus members in the House who were present in the Senate chamber for the vote. McBath said afterward that Jackson’s confirmation made her emotional because it represented the culmination of work by people like her parents, who were active in the civil rights movement. She said she was grateful for the three Senate Republicans who supported Jackson.

“She’s well-qualified — more than qualified — and more deserving than anything to be here,” said McBath, a Democrat from Marietta. “And so I’m just really grateful. Grateful that I was able to witness this today, and grateful that I’m able to take this experience back home with me and share it with my community.”

Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff, as a member of the Judiciary Committee, had a front-row seat to the nomination process and related hearings. He said Jackson will have an impact for years to come.

“This is a historic moment for the United States, for the judiciary, for the Supreme Court,” he said. “It’s been an honor to participate in this process on behalf of my constituents, and I look forward to decades of distinguished service by Justice Jackson on the court.”

Jackson currently serves on the federal appeals court based in Washington, and she will become one of the few justices who have prior experience as a public defender. At age 51, she will become the court’s second-youngest jurist.

Jackson is slated to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal jurist who announced in January that he will retire when the court’s term ends this summer. As a result, Jackson’s addition to the court is not expected to affect its current split of six conservatives and three liberal justices.

Republicans who opposed her nomination said she lacked experience and was too liberal. During two long days of sometimes-contentious questioning during last month’s Judiciary Committee hearings, GOP members asked Jackson about critical race theory and sentencing choices she made as a trial judge. They touched on today’s partisan culture wars, but her defenders say the questions had little to do with the work she would do on the Supreme Court.

Republicans defended their questioning, saying Jackson was treated no worse than recent conservative nominees to the high court. After witnessing the rough exchanges, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker spoke directly to Jackson with words of encouragement and recognition in an impromptu speech that went viral and brought her to tears.

Warnock said Jackson will stand as a role model for his 5-year-old daughter and other young women, but all Americans should celebrate by having a high court that looks more like the country as a whole.

“Seeing Judge Jackson ascend to the Supreme Court reflects the promise of progress on which our democracy rests,” he said. “What a great day it is in America.”

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