“It’s an extraordinary day,” said Vice President Kamala Harris after leaving the Senate floor where she presided over the historic confirmation vote of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I think it’s a very important statement today about who we are as a nation that we put Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on the highest court of our land. So let us all I think rejoice,” Harris said, according to CNN.
The U.S. Supreme Court is having a Black female justice for the first time in its 233-year history after the Senate confirmed Jackson to the nine-member bench on Thursday. The final vote was 53 to 47, with all 50 Democratic caucus members supporting Jackson. They were joined by Republican Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine, Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, and Mitt Romney, of Utah, according to NBC News.
Jackson, 51, will replace Justice Stephen Breyer. She will be sworn in after Breyer’s retirement in June. Her appointment would not disrupt the current 6 to 3 conservative balance on the Supreme Court, NBC News said.
“This is a wonderful day, a joyous day, an inspiring day for the Senate, for the Supreme Court and for the United States of America,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “This is one of the great moment of American history.”
U.S. President Joe Biden had said during a press conference in Delaware in June 2020 that he hoped to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court if given the opportunity. In January this year, he said that he plans on fulfilling his promise. Jackson’s appointment now fulfills that promise.
Jackson is a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She was born in Washington DC and raised in Miami by parents who are both graduates of historically black colleges. Jackson has two degrees from Harvard University, which she attended as an undergraduate and as a law student, and once served as editor of the Harvard Law Review. While at Harvard, BBC reports that she led protests against a student who draped a Confederate flag from his dorm window.
Jackson was promoted to her current position just last year. Before this, she was district judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia from 2013 to 2021. In June, Biden nominated her to fill Merrick Garland’s seat on the D.C. Circuit after Garland was confirmed as attorney general. Jackson has also clerked for three federal judges in the past, including Breyer himself from 1999-2000.
During the House impeachment inquiry, Jackson presided over the attempt by the Trump Justice Department to prevent former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying to Congress. Jackson’s husband is a surgeon and she has two children.