On Thursday, the Senate held a historic vote on the first African American woman nominated to hold a position on the highest court in the land with a vote of 53 – 47. Republicans Mitt Romney (UT), Susan Collins (ME), and Lisa Murkowski (AK) voted to confirm Jackson. Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the vote; however, the three Republicans who voted to confirm Jackson had already vocalized their support.
The confirmation is one of the campaign promises made by Joe Biden fulfilled.
During the vote, members of the Congressional Black Caucus stood at the back of the Senate chamber. When the vote tally was announced, Democrats embraced one another and a standing ovation took place.
Jackson herself joined President Joe Biden as well as members of his White House staff in the Roosevelt Room to view the results. Shortly after, President Biden and Jackson took a selfie together. The selfie was posted on Twitter along with the following quote from Biden: “Judge Jackson’s confirmation was a historic moment for our nation. Wer’ve taken another step toward making our highest court reflect the diversity of America.” Biden concluded by saying he was “honored” to have been able to share that moment with Jackson.
Other Democrat lawmakers tweeted their celebratory comments as well. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) noted that today is a great day for America, while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer described today is inspiring and joyous.
The initial vote was delayed for about fifteen minutes due to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) missing from the Senate floor.
Many Republicans have presented concerns about confirming Jackson to the position. During the Senate confirmation hearings, Jackson was grilled regarding her sentencing practices. She also became the subject of multiple conservative memes across the internet for saying that she couldn’t define what makes a woman because she’s “not a biologist.” Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) posed the now-infamous question to Ketanji Brown Jackson near the end of the hearings.
Jackson experienced the most contention with Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) regarding her sentencing of those convicted of certain child pornography offenses. She also faced tough questioning from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as well as Senator John Kennedy (R-LA).
On Thursday morning, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) announced he would not be voting for Jackson due to her judicial philosophy. Other Republicans felt that Jackson’s inability to answer questions, from the definition of a woman to her opinion on court packing, made her a wrong choice for the seat that Justice Stephen Breyer will leave vacant upon his retirement. She is expected to succeed Breyer when the current term expires in July. Her confirmation will not change the ideological makeup of the current Court, which counts six conservative judges and three liberal justices.
Currently, the Supreme Court is hearing some highly controversial cases, including an abortion law in two different states as well as a gun rights case. With a chiefly conservative court at present, the latest Supreme Court session is one of the most highly watched in many years.
Jackson is highly qualified for the position. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has served as an appellate judge for the last three years. She has also worked as a public defender and in private law practice. Jackson can also count as part of her experience her time with the Sentencing Commission.
Jackson was expected to be confirmed; she has twice previously been confirmed by the Senate for federal judicial positions. Democrats admired Jackson’s poise during tough questioning, but Republicans – including Tim Scott – mentioned that many of her decisions on the appellate court have been overturned recently.