The United States made history on Thursday when the Senate confirmed Kitangi Brown-Jackson as the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
The appointment of the 51-year-old – who was given a standing ovation on the Senate floor – means white men will not be in the majority on the nation’s Supreme Court for the first time in 233 years.
President Joe Biden called it a “historic moment for our nation.”
“This milestone should have happened generations ago…but we are always on a path toward a more perfect union. Yet today America is taking a giant step toward making our union more perfect,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
People sometimes talk about standing on the shoulders of giants; Well, Judge Jackson will go down in history as an American giant on whose shoulders others will stand. And our democracy will be better off.”
Jackson secured the support of three Republican senators during a harsh and sometimes brutal confirmation process, giving Biden a bipartisan, 53-47 endorsement for the first Supreme Court nominee.
It’s a great moment for the president, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1980s and 1990s, meaning he had an unprecedented advantage in both the nomination and oversight of a Supreme Court justice.
Crucially, he has allowed Biden to show the black voters who saved his faltering primary campaign of 2020 that he can deliver to them after the recent defeat of voting rights legislation.
After 42 days, the confirmation will be among the shortest in history, although it took longer for Donald Trump’s last pick in court during his presidency, Aimee Connie Barrett.
Guardian of the Constitution
As the last word in all civil and criminal legal disputes, as well as the guardian and interpreter of the Constitution, the Supreme Court seeks to ensure equal justice under the law.
It is also an examination of the power that other branches of government exercise and govern in conflicts that cover all aspects of American life, from religious freedom and voting rights to gun ownership and access to abortion.
Four of the nine-member court’s justices will be women once Jackson takes her seat, making her the most versatile bench in history—even though they all attended Harvard or Yale law schools.
Of the five men on the bench, four are white, and Clarence Thomas is African-American.
Jackson, who watched the White House vote with Biden, is the only Democratic presidential candidate to be confirmed since Elena Kagan in 2010.
She replaced retired liberal judge Stephen Breyer, for whom she was a writer at the turn of the century.
So while her confirmation is a milestone, it won’t change the conservative 6-3 majority on the field, and that fact takes some sting out of a fight that could have been fiercer.
However, Schumer, who has had to endure 50-50 Senate membership longer than any majority leader in history, had to lead Jackson through a contentious and emotionally draining confirmation process.
Republicans have accused a Washington appeals court judge of “softening” children who film pornography, even though her sentencing record is in line with that of other federal judges.
Others indicated that she was a terrorist sympathizer due to her work as a federal public defender representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees, and one even suggested that she was a sympathizer of Nazi criminals.
Lisa Murkowski, one of Jackson’s Republican trio of supporters, said in a statement that her endorsement was “a rejection of the destructive politicization of the review process.”
While the process was highly divisive, Jackson maintained strong support among voters who cared about her assertion.
A new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows that nearly half of voters said the Senate should support it. Only 26 percent don’t think it deserves a yes vote, while 25 percent have no opinion.
Several liberal-leaning pressure groups have released statements to celebrate Jackson’s affirmation, including reproductive health care charity Planned Parenthood, which said the vote “has been in the making for centuries.”
Feminist protest group Women’s March added: “We are eager to watch her continue her work in this life in the highest court on earth.”
“And we have no doubt that it will bring her the dignity, honor and respect of working with her every day.”