WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is expected to confirm Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday, securing her place as the first black woman on the High Court and giving President Joe Biden bipartisan approval for his historic choice.
Three Republican senators have said they will support Jackson, who will replace Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires this summer. Although the vote is a far cry from the overwhelming bipartisan confirmations for Breyer and other justices in decades past, it will still be a significant bipartisan achievement for Biden in the narrow 50-50 Senate after GOP senators worked so hard. aggressive to portray Jackson as too liberal and soft. on crime.
“It’s going to be a joyful day,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in announcing Thursday’s vote late Wednesday night. “Happy for the Senate, happy for the Supreme Court, happy for America.”
Jackson, a 51-year-old federal appeals court judge, would be just the third black judge, after Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, and the sixth woman. She would join two other women, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, on the liberal side of a conservative 6-3 court. With Judge Amy Coney Barrett sitting at the other end of the bench, four of the nine judges would be women for the first time in history.
After a deadly hearing in which Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee aggressively questioned Jackson about her sentencing record, three GOP senators walked out and said they would support her. Statements from Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney all said the same thing – they may not always agree with Jackson, but they found her extremely qualified for the job.
Both Collins and Murkowski denounced the increasingly partisan confirmation process, which Collins called “broken” and Murkowski called “corrosive” and “more detached from reality with each passing year.”
Biden, a veteran of a more bipartisan Senate, said early on he wanted bipartisan support for his landmark nominee, and he invited Republicans to the White House as he made his decision. It was an attempt to reset after three brutal Supreme Court battles during President Donald Trump’s presidency, when Democrats vehemently opposed the candidates, and at the end of President Barack Obama, when Republicans prevented Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland from getting a vote.
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Jackson said his life was shaped by his parents’ experiences with legal racial segregation and civil rights laws that were enacted a decade before he was born.
With her parents and family seated behind her, she told the panel that her “path was clearer” than theirs as a Black American. Jackson attended Harvard University, served as a public defender, worked in a private law firm and served as a member of the US Sentencing Commission in addition to her nine years on the federal bench.
“I have been a judge for almost a decade now, and I take that responsibility and my duty of independence very seriously,” Jackson said. “I decide cases from a neutral position. I assess the facts, and interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, in accordance with my judicial oath.
Once sworn in, Jackson would be the second-youngest member of the tribunal after Barrett, 50. She would join a court on which no one is yet 75, the first time this has happened in nearly 30 years.
Jackson’s first term will be marked by cases involving race, both in college admissions and voting rights. She has pledged not to participate in the court’s review of Harvard’s admissions program since she is a member of its board of supervisors. But the court could split a second case involving a challenge to the University of North Carolina’s admissions process, which could allow it to rule on the issue.
Republicans have spent the hearings questioning her federal bench conviction record, including the sentences she handed down in child pornography cases, which they say were too light. Jackson pushed back against the GOP narrative, saying “nothing could be further from the truth” and explaining his reasoning in detail. Democrats said she was in line with other justices in her rulings.
The GOP’s questioning on the Judiciary Committee, however, has stymied many Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said in a floor speech Wednesday that Jackson “has never been tough on a single times in this area”.
Democrats criticized Republicans’ questioning.
“You could try to create a front man here, but that doesn’t hold up,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said during the committee’s vote earlier this week. The panel deadlocked on the nomination 11-11, but the Senate voted to discharge her from the committee and moved forward with her confirmation.
In an impassioned moment during hearings last month, Booker, who is also black, told Jackson he was moved to see her testify. He said he saw “my ancestors and yours” in his image.
“But don’t worry, sister,” Booker said. “Don’t worry. God has you. And how do I know that? Because you’re here, and I know what it takes to sit in that seat.