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Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

It’s Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, as U.S. history is made on the Supreme Court

After a rigorous confirmation process, the U.S. Supreme Court has its first Black woman justice in history.

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The U.S. Supreme Court was formally established in 1790, and in its 232 year history, it has never appointed a Black woman to serve on the bench.

That finally changed on Thursday, April 7, when Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed with a vote of 53-47, marking a historic win for representation in the federal government.

Despite the massive amount of criticism and aggressive questioning Jackson received from Republicans during Senate hearings last month, three GOP Senators crossed party lines to vote for her.

During his 2020 presidential campaign, President Joe Biden said that if elected, he would be dedicated to nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court, and he followed through on this promise. 

Ahead of the final vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it was a “joyous, momentous, groundbreaking day,” and that while Jackson will be the first, he believes she will not be the last. 

Justice Jackson, whose parents attended segregated schools, earned two degrees from Harvard University and is now in line to replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer when he retires at the end of the court’s session this Summer. 

At the capitol, the galleries — which were closed for much of the pandemic ​​— were overflowing with supporters who gathered to celebrate the landmark confirmation. 

After the final vote, the chamber burst into applause, with staff and guests jumping to their feet for a long standing ovation. 

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, described the moment as one of “enormous consequence to our nation and to history.”

“After weeks and weeks of racist, misogynist and stomach-churning attacks, we cannot wait to finally call her Justice Jackson,” Johnson said. 

Not everyone partook in the celebratory atmosphere. As cheers echoed from the walls, Senator Mitch McConnell turned his back and slowly exited, along with most of the few Republicans left on the floor. 

“When it came to one of the most consequential decisions a president can make, a lifetime appointment to our highest court, the Biden administration let the radicals run the show,” McConnell said in his final argument against Justice Jackson. 

Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney crossed party lines to confirm Justice Jackson, offering a speck of unity to the harshly divisive process. 

Justice Jackson’s confirmation was a major accomplishment for Biden, who promised he would appoint a Black woman to the high court.

As a former public defender, she is the epitome of the administration’s efforts to expand the personal and professional diversity of the courts. Justice Jackson will be the first ever public defender to serve on the Supreme Court. 

Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to hold the position, presided over the vote. More than 12 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Joyce Beatty, gathered on the Senate floor to mark the occasion. 

“I’m overjoyed, deeply moved,” Harris told CNN reporters after the vote. 

Former First Lady Michelle Obama, also shared joy and pride in Justice Jackson’s appointment in an Instagram post.

“So many women of color now have a new role model to look up to as she serves on the highest court of the land,” she wrote. 

 

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