By a bipartisan vote of 53-47, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday – an historic moment as Judge Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve on the highest court in the land.
All 50 Senate Democrats voted to confirm Judge Jackson and were joined by three Republicans – Utah’s Mitt Romney, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins.
The confirmation proved just how consequential elections are. Two years ago, then candidate Joe Biden promised during his campaign to nominate a Black women to the Court. President Biden kept his promise with the first opportunity he had and Judge Jackson will become the first Black woman on the bench in its 233 year history.
Jackson persevered through the four days of confirmation hearings, as she endured contentious debate from Republicans over former sentencing records. Several Democratic senators, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, cut through the attacks particularly on Day 3 by applauding Jackson for her grace and reminding the room of her extensive qualifications.
Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, expressed similar sentiments as the hearings closed on Day 4, noting that Jackson’s appointment to the high court would shatter glass ceilings.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, drew tears from Jackson and shed some himself, during his speech, which provided a break from the tense line of questioning GOP senators chose to pursue.
“They’re gonna accuse you of this and that. Heck, in honor of your person who shares your birthday, you might be called the communist,” Booker began. “But don’t worry, my sister. Don’t worry. God has got you. And how do I know that? Because you’re here, and I know what it’s taken for you to sit in that seat.”
“I’m sorry,” Booker continued. “You’re a person that is so much more than your race and gender. You’re a Christian. You’re a mom. It’s hard for me not to look at you and not see my mom. I see my ancestors and yours.”
As Booker noted, much of the questioning by several GOP senators has been dominated by her rulings in child pornography cases during her time as a federal district judge.
During the first hearing, Sen. Marsha Blackburn argued that Jackson is “soft on crime” and has “a consistent pattern of giving child porn offenders lighter sentences.”
Continuing these accusations on Wednesday, Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz displayed a chart of eight child abuse cases Jackson heard and their sentencing records, telling Jackson that he was “going to give you an opportunity to discuss each and every case you’ve had.”
Having been asked about the cases before and with Cruz repeatedly talking over her, Jackson replied as best as she could.
“I’ve taken every case seriously,” Jackson responded. “These are very horrible crimes, as was that one. And as a mother, having to look at these pictures, having to follow Congress’ directive, having to listen to recommendations like the government in that case, which argued for 16 months.”
Regarding the matter and echoing the frustration of many senators in the room, Sen. Patrick Leahy stated, “I know the junior senator from Texas likes to get on television, but most of us have been here a long time trying to follow the rules.” Leahy, a Democratic senator from Vermont, is the longest-serving member on the committee with 47 years of service.
Despite all the contention she faced during the confirmation hearings, Jackson has been confirmed and the efforts of Republicans to show her as being “soft on crime” did not prevent that confirmation.
“Today, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson made history as she was confirmed to serve as the first African American woman on the United States Supreme Court. Judge Jackson is exactly the right nominee for this moment who will protect civil rights, workers’ rights and more. It is shameful but unsurprising that the Ohio Republicans who have focused their campaigns on petty feuds and posturing have stooped so low to attack the character of a qualified, fair-minded jurist.” -said Ohio State Representative Paula Hicks-Hudson, Toledo