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Ketanji Brown Jackson will be America’s next Supreme Court Justice, with the U.S. Senate confirming her nomination in a bipartisan 53-47 vote on Thursday.
She will make history as the first Black woman to join the Supreme Court when Justice Stephen Breyer retires this summer. The court will gain an impressive and experienced member.
Soon-to-be Justice Jackson demonstrated her thoughtfulness and patience during her confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee — an always difficult process made even more tedious by the grandstanding and disrespect of several Republican members. Despite that treatment, Jackson’s strength as a judge and a person showed through.
“During this hearing, I hope that you will see how much I love our country and the Constitution, and the rights that make us free,” she said in her opening remarks to the committee on March 21. “I stand on the shoulders of many who have come before me, including Judge Constance Baker Motley, who was the first African American woman to be appointed to the federal bench and with whom I share a birthday. And like Judge Motley, I have dedicated my career to ensuring that the words engraved on the front of the Supreme Court building —’Equal Justice Under Law’ — are a reality and not just an ideal.”
Her qualifications and impressive resume were there for all of us to see. Thankfully, both of Maine’s senators saw them too.
Sen. Susan Collins was the first Senate Republican to back Jackson’s nomination, and was later joined by Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah.
“After reviewing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s extensive record, watching much of her hearing testimony, and meeting with her twice in person, I have concluded that she possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Collins said in a March 30 statement. “I will, therefore, vote to confirm her to this position.”
Independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats, also announced his support for Jackson in advance of her eventual confirmation. He celebrated the outcome in a statement following the vote.
“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is one of the most impressive people I have ever met,” King said. “After reviewing her record, attending a portion of her hearing, and meeting with her in person, it became clear that Judge Jackson is a brilliant legal mind with wide-ranging experience and an even judicial temperament well-suited for the highest court in the land.”
The fact that such a qualified nominee only received three Republican votes is disappointing though not surprising, and indicative of a Senate confirmation process that has become, in Collins’ words, “broken.” Murkowski said the process is “growing worse and more detached from reality by the year.” The principled votes and approach from Collins, Murkowski and Romney offer some hope for a confirmation process recalibration that prioritizes qualifications and experience over political fault lines.
The greatest source of hope here, however, is Jackson herself. Through her hard work and remarkable life journey, she has shown us what is possible in America.
In remarks at a White House ceremony on Friday afternoon, Jackson highlighted the correspondence she has been receiving from people saying how much her nomination (and now confirmation) means to them, especially the notes she has received from children.
“Because more than anything, they speak directly to the hope and promise of America. It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Jackson said. “But we’ve made it. We’ve made it — all of us, all of us.”
“So as I take on this new role, I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride,” Jackson added. “We have come a long way toward perfecting our union. In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
She said previously that she was “humbled and honored” that President Joe Biden nominated her to the Supreme Court. We say that America will be lucky to have her there.