Apr 07, 2022
By Jane Brown
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson is expected to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate Thursday, securing her place as the first black woman on the high court.
The historic event also gives U.S. President Joe Biden a rare bi-partisan endorsement, even after certain Republican senators worked aggressively to portray Brown Jackson as too liberal.
Three Republican senators have said they will support Jackson, who would replace Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires this summer.
“It will be a joyous day,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as he announced Thursday’s vote late Wednesday evening. “Joyous for the Senate, joyous for the Supreme Court, joyous for America.”
Jackson, a 51 year-old federal appeals court judge, would be just the third black justice, after Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, and the sixth woman. She would join two other women, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, on the liberal side of a 6-3 conservative court. With Justice Amy Coney Barrett sitting at the other end of the bench, four of the nine justices would be women for the first time in history.
Before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Jackson said her life was shaped by her parents’ experiences with racial segregation and civil rights laws that were enacted a decade before she was born.
With her parents and family sitting behind her, she told the panel that her “path was clearer” than theirs as a Black American. Jackson attended Harvard University, served as a public defender, worked at a private law firm and was appointed as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission in addition to her nine years on the federal bench.
“I have been a judge for nearly a decade now, and I take that responsibility and my duty to be independent very seriously,” Jackson said. “I decide cases from a neutral posture. I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath.”
Once sworn in, Jackson would be the second youngest member of the court after Barrett, 50. She would join a court on which no one is yet 75, the first time that has happened in nearly 30 years.
Republicans spent the hearings interrogating her sentencing record on the federal bench, including the sentences she handed down in child pornography cases, which they argued were too light. Jackson pushed back on the GOP narrative, declaring that “nothing could be further from the truth” and explaining her reasoning in detail. Democrats said she was in line with other judges in her decisions.
Democrats criticized the Republicans’ questioning.
“You could try and create a straw man here, but it does not hold,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at the committee’s vote earlier this week.
In an impassioned moment during the hearings last month, Booker, who is also black, told Jackson that he felt emotional watching her testify. He said he saw “my ancestors and yours” in her image.
“But don’t worry, my sister,” Booker said. “Don’t worry. God has got you. And how do I know that? Because you’re here, and I know what it’s taken for you to sit in that seat.”