WASHINGTON — President Biden planned to celebrate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court with a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday. The event, scheduled for 12:15 p.m., will commemorate the appointment of the first black woman to court.
Mr. Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Judge Jackson were scheduled to deliver remarks. White House officials said they invited the judge’s family, all current and former Supreme Court justices and three Republicans – Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — who voted with Democrats on Thursday to confirm Judge Jackson, lending a modicum of bipartisanship to an otherwise bitterly polarized process. Republican senators were not present on Friday.
A spate of positive coronavirus cases among lawmakers and administration officials this week has whittled down the list of potential guests. Ms. Collins said Thursday that she had tested positive, as had several Democrats who had rubbed shoulders with Mr. Biden in recent days, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The president was last tested Wednesday night, a White House official said Friday morning, hours before the ceremony.
Justice Jackson’s confirmation is a major victory for Mr Biden, who once revived his waning presidential campaign by pledging to appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court if elected. He and his advisers intended to celebrate a promise kept.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Thursday that Mr. Biden’s experience as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee “gave him historically exceptional preparation” for a nomination process. succeeded. Ms Psaki praised Judge Jackson’s character during a murderous Senate confirmation hearing that sometimes got personal.
“She began her preparatory work immediately, starting the day after her announcement, and promised to meet with anyone who wished and honored her, meeting with 97 senators during her consultations,” Ms. Psaki said.
At the White House on Thursday, Mr. Biden and Judge Jackson watched the vote together from the Roosevelt Room. The White House shared video from the president’s Instagram account of the moment the two watched Vice President Kamala Harris declare the 53-47 vote in favor of confirming the judge.
“Agreed!” Mr Biden exclaimed as he clenched his fist and wrapped his other arm around Judge Jackson, who clasped his hands and smiled. “OK.”
The president then took a selfie with the judge in front of a television screen displaying the final vote count. Ms Psaki said on Thursday that reporters were not allowed into the room because the moment was private and the South Lawn party was intended for a wider audience.
Judge Jackson won’t be sworn in for months. Judge Stephen G. Breyer, whom she will replace on the bench, said he plans to retire this summer when his current term ends.
Judge Jackson was born in Washington, DC, and raised in Miami. She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Justice Breyer’s alma mater, and served as a clerk for him during the 1999-2000 Supreme Court tenure.
While her confirmation doesn’t change the court’s ideological balance — Republican-appointed conservatives retain their 6-3 majority — she achieved another first: All three justices nominated by Democratic presidents will be women.