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Senate Democrats celebrated the historic confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman on the Supreme Court on Thursday, saying the moment marks a significant milestone for the nation.
“This is an incredible day not only for Judge Brown Jackson but also for the United States of America,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., told a gathering of reporters, staffers and activists after the 53-47 vote.
“It’s a long road to equality. We keep walking on it,” he added. “Sometimes you take a step back. Today we took a giant step forward. We are thrilled.”
SENATE CONFIRMS BIDEN NAME KETANJI BROWN JACKSON FOR SUPREME COURT
Jackson’s confirmation vote comes just over two months after Judge Stephen Breyer said he would step down from the court at the end of his current term. Jackson will be sworn in to take his seat at that time, which is expected to arrive in late June or early July.
As the Senate voted on Thursday, the back of the chamber was filled with House members from the Congressional Black Caucus who arrived to mark the historic day. With Vice President Harris presiding, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff watched the vote in the visitors’ gallery watching the proceedings.
Huge applause erupted throughout the chamber after the final count, including a standing ovation and multiple hugs between Democrats.
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Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who was first elected to the Senate in 1974, choked up at a press conference after the vote when talking about the example Jackson will set for younger generations.
“I’ve been here for 21 Supreme Court appointments, and I’m looking at all of them and looking at what we’ve learned,” he said. “And here I see someone extraordinarily well-qualified, someone who will make the court look more like America and someone, frankly, I can say to my children and my grandchildren, ‘Be proud, be proud of what you see.
“After 48 years, I am very, very happy.”
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“To be first, you have to be best,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “We want our justice system to look a lot more like America, and today we took a giant step.”
Only three Senate Republicans voted for Jackson: Susan Collins, R-Maine; Mitt Romney, R-Utah; and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Most Republicans in the Senate chamber left before the vote ended or immediately after it closed.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not speak to a crowd gathered outside the Senate Chamber as he walked out after the vote.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., acknowledged Thursday how historic Jackson’s confirmation is. But he railed against the fact that Jackson was backed by much of the progressive left to the exclusion of the candidate he and Senate Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, DS.C., favored — the Judge J. Michelle Childs, also a black woman.
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“The left responded quite fiercely,” Graham said of discussions in February about Childs’ potential nomination. “All of the groups that are associated with this Arabella organization – the world of George Soros – have essentially declared war on candidates other than Judge Jackson.”
Graham further denounced what Democrats did to former GOP judicial nominees who were minorities, particularly Judge Janice Rodgers Brown.
“The reason she’s not the first African-American woman on the Supreme Court is that they blocked her and denied her that ability,” Graham said of Brown’s initial court nomination. circuit call of DC in 2005.
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Despite Republican grievances, Democrats were jubilant on Thursday.
“Seeing Justice Jackson ascend to the Supreme Court reflects the promise of progress on which our democracy is built,” Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said before the vote. “What a great day it is in America today.”
“Today the higher angels, as Abraham Lincoln said, held firm,” Schumer said.