U.S. Supreme Court
With 53-47 confirmation vote, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will become first Black woman on Supreme Court
President Joe Biden holds hands with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as they watch the U.S. Senate vote on her confirmation from the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Thursday. Photo by Susan Walsh/The Associated Press.
The U.S. Senate voted 53-47 on Thursday to confirm U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson will become the first Black woman on the Supreme Court and the only justice with experience as a public defender. Jackson will replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, for whom she once worked for as a law clerk.
Three Republican senators joined Democrats in voting for Jackson, report the New York Times and the Washington Post. They are Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.
Jackson will join the high court after serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Circuit and as a federal district judge.
Jackson had received the top rating of “well qualified” from the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary in its evaluation of her integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament.
In testimony during Jackson’s confirmation hearing, the standing committee’s chair, retired U.S. Circuit Judge Ann Claire Williams, said lawyers and judges interviewed by committee evaluators were consistent in their praise of Jackson.
“Everyone we talked to, interviewed or had substantive contact with uniformly gave the highest praise: ‘brilliant,’ ‘beyond reproach, ‘first rate,’ ‘patient,’ ‘insightful,’ ‘impeccable,’ ‘A-plus,’” Williams said. “The question we kept asking ourselves: How does one human being do so much, so extraordinarily well?”
No one interviewed raised a concern that Jackson was biased toward criminal defendants, Williams said. The bias issue has been raised by some Republican senators who have criticized Jackson as being “soft on crime,” particularly in her sentencing of child pornography defendants.
According to the Washington Post, many senators had anticipated that the confirmation process would be “relatively sedate.” After all, Jackson would become one of only three liberal justices on the nine-member Supreme Court.
President Joe Biden and Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson watch as the Senate votes on her confirmation from the Roosevelt Room on Thursday. Photo by Susan Walsh/The Associated Press.
“But the lower ideological stakes for the confirmation were no match for the crucibles of culture war politics or election-year posturing,” according to the Washington Post. “Amid the attacks, Jackson largely kept her composure during two consecutive days of marathon hearings.”
Republicans questioned Jackson about her sentencing decisions, her representation of Guantanamo detainees and the books available to children at the private school where she is a member of the board of trustees.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat of Illinois, expressed his displeasure with Republican attacks during the hearings.
“Yesterday, your nomination turned out to be the testing ground for conspiracy theories and culture-war theories,” Durbin told Jackson during the hearing. “I am sorry that we have to go through this.”
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