WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination on Thursday, securing her place as the court’s first Black female justice.
Jackson, a 51-year-old appeals court judge with nine years of experience on the federal bench, was confirmed 53-47, mostly along party lines.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney voted to confirm Jackson.
In her confirmation, Jackson made history by becoming the third Black justice and only the sixth woman in the court’s more than 200-year history.
Jackson will take her seat when Justice Stephen Breyer retires this summer.
Jackson joined President Joe Biden and other White House senior staff in the Roosevelt Room to watch the results of the Senate vote.
After the vote, Biden tweeted, “Judge Jackson’s confirmation was a historic moment for our nation. We’ve taken another step toward making our highest court reflect the diversity of America. She will be an incredible Justice, and I was honored to share this moment with her.”
“This is a wonderful day, a joyous day, an inspiring day — for the Senate, for the Supreme Court and for the United States of America,” exulted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Supporters cite her deep experience in her nine years on the federal bench and the chance for her to become the first former public defender on the court.
President Joe Biden has sought bipartisan backing for his pick, making repeated calls to senators and inviting Republicans to the White House.
While the vote was far from the overwhelming bipartisan confirmations for Breyer and other justices in decades past, it was still a significant bipartisan accomplishment for Biden in the narrow 50-50 Senate after GOP senators aggressively worked to paint Jackson as too liberal and soft on crime.
“Judge Jackson will bring extraordinary qualifications, deep experience and intellect and a rigorous judicial record to the Supreme Court,” Biden tweeted Monday. “She deserves to be confirmed as the next justice.”
Jackson faced a bruising 30 hours of hearings in which Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee aggressively interrogated her sentencing record.
Republicans spent the hearings attacking her 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.
Jackson would be the current court’s second Black justice — Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, is the other — and just the third in history. Jackson would replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Breyer. Biden nominated Jackson in February.
The 51-year-old federal appeals court judge would join two other women, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, on the liberal side of the current 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 to 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.