In a historic move that has been hailed for promoting diversity in the judiciary, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday was confirmed to the Supreme Court. With the appointment as the 116th justice in U.S. history with a final vote of 53 to 47 by the senate, she becomes the first Black woman to be elevated to serve on the nation’s highest court.
“On this vote, the yays are 53. The nays are 47 and this nomination is confirmed,” Harris said to rousing applause from senators as she announced the confirmation of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. The news was also greeted with a standing ovation.
Jackson, 51, will take over from Justice Stephen Breyer who is set to retire at the end of the Supreme Court’s term this summer.
President Biden was present and watched the vote with Jackson in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. The pair was spotted embracing after her confirmation.
Recall Biden nominated Jackson in February, fulfilling his presidential campaign promise to nominate a black woman to the court.
Ketanji Brown Jackson is also the first former public defender to sit on the court.
Former US president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, the former first lady, also celebrated the historic feat:
“Like so many of you, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride – a sense of joy – to know that this deserving, accomplished Black woman will be a part of the highest court in the land,” tweeted the former first lady.
“This is a great day for America, and a proud moment in our history,” posted Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “This milestone should have happened generations ago… but we are always trotting on a path towards a more perfect union. Nevertheless, America today is taking a giant step towards making our union more perfect.”
“People sometimes talk about standing on the shoulders of giants; well, Judge Jackson will go down in history as an American giant upon whose shoulders others will stand tall. And our democracy will be better off for it.”
Jackson, with a distinguished career as an attorney and jurist, born in Washington and raised in Miami is also noted for having represented some of the most vulnerable people in the justice system as well as handled a number of high-profile cases. She graduated from Harvard University in 1992 with a B.A. in Government, magna cum laude, going ahead to work for a year as a staff reporter and researcher at Time Magazine, Inc. She later earned her J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1996, where she was a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. After law school, Judge Jackson clerked for three federal judges appointed by presidents of both political parties: Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States, Judge Bruce M. Selya of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and Judge Patti B. Saris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
She is also the first former public defender to sit on the court and one of only three current justices who attended public school.