The United States Senate has confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson for a seat on the Supreme Court, making her the first black female justice to serve on the nation’s highest court. This is a major victory for President Joe Biden, who pushed for her candidacy.
On Thursday afternoon, the Senate voted to approve Jackson for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, with 53 senators supporting her, including all 50 Democrats and three Republicans, and 47 voting against her.
Jackson, who is now a judge on the influential US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, would succeed retiring liberal justice Stephen Breyer, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton and will leave the court at the end of its current term later this year. The ideological makeup of the nine-member body will not change as a result of Jackson’s confirmation. Right now, the Supreme Court is stacked in favor of conservative justices, with six seats compared to just three for Clinton and Obama’s liberal appointees.
Nonetheless, her appointment to the Supreme Court is historic, not only because she is the first black woman to serve on the court, but also because she will be the first justice to have worked as a public defender.
“This landmark should have occurred centuries ago – generations ago — but we are continually striving for a more perfect union.” Nonetheless, America today is taking a tremendous step toward making our union more perfect,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote on Thursday.
Jackson has been considered the frontrunner for the seat since Biden assumed office, when he made a campaign promise to appoint the first black woman to the Supreme Court. She watched the voting on television with Biden at the White House on Thursday. Some Biden supporters, such as South Carolina Democrat Jim Clyburn, advocated for alternate choices, but the US president finally chose Jackson as a highly competent and easily confirmed nominee.
In a sign of the nominee’s importance to his presidency and congressional Democrats, Biden publicly announced Jackson’s candidacy on February 25, the day after Russia attacked Ukraine. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader who led the push to confirm Donald Trump’s three Supreme Court nominees, slammed Jackson as radical and was joined in rejecting her nomination by the majority of his party.
“With the Democrats in power in Washington, the radical left got their wish for irresponsible inflationary spending. The far left has gotten its desired unsecure border. And today, the radical left will have their Supreme Court justice,” McConnell warned. Three Republican senators, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine, voted to endorse her.
“No one doubts Judge Jackson’s qualifications; her demonstrated judicial independence; her demeanor and temperament; and the vital perspective she would offer to the court as a substitute for Justice Breyer,” Murkowski said earlier this week.
“It also rests on my rejection of the corrosive politicization of the Supreme Court candidates vetting process, which is getting worse and more distant from reality by the year on both sides of the aisle.”
The White House and Democrats are hoping that Jackson’s appointment to the Supreme Court would help increase Democratic enthusiasm among the party’s base ahead of the midterm elections, which Republicans are expected to win due to Biden’s low approval ratings and voter worry over rising inflation.
Progressive Democrats have also been disappointed by Biden’s inability to reach an agreement with Congress on legislation to protect voting rights and much of his economic agenda, which includes increased funding for education, childcare, and climate change, paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy and large corporations.