U.S. Senate confirms first African American woman for Supreme Court

© Provided by Xinhua

With the Senate’s confirmation, Ketanji Brown Jackson will become the first African American woman on the Supreme Court since the highest court was established in the United States in 1789.

WASHINGTON, April 7 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court in a 53-47 vote on Thursday.

Only three Republicans joined Democrats and independents in supporting Jackson to be the first African American woman on the highest court.

At age 51, Jackson has sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit – often referred to as the nation’s second most powerful court – since June 2021.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced in late February the nomination of Jackson to succeed liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who is about to retire this summer.

Jackson will not be sworn in until after Breyer leaves the post.

Biden and Jackson watched the Senate vote, which fell largely along party lines, from the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Thursday afternoon.

“Judge Jackson’s confirmation was a historic moment for our nation,” Biden tweeted with a photo of him taking a selfie with the judge.

“We’ve taken another step toward making our highest court reflect the diversity of America,” he said. “She will be an incredible Justice, and I was honored to share this moment with her.”

The White House has scheduled an event for Friday to celebrate the confirmation.

While Senate Democrats have praised Jackson’s qualifications, as well as the historic nature of her nomination, most Republicans have cast doubt on her past rulings.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted against the nomination, voiced concern about what he saw as a “long and disturbing record of using judicial activism to go soft on crime.”

It was one of Biden’s major campaign promises to fill a potential Supreme Court vacancy with an African American woman.

Since the Supreme Court was established in the United States in 1789, 115 justices have served on the bench. Of them, 108 were white men. The justices have life tenure and can serve until they die, resign, retire, or are impeached and removed from office.

Born in Washington, D.C. but raised in Miami, Florida, Jackson received her law degree from Harvard University and graduated cum laude in 1996. Earlier in her legal career, she worked as an assistant federal public defender in D.C. and served as vice-chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission for four years.

Jackson served more than eight years as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before being elevated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This year, the Supreme Court will rule on cases involving a series of major issues, including abortion, affirmative action and gun control.

Court watchers have argued Jackson is expected to vote very similarly to Breyer and her ascension won’t change the Supreme Court’s ideological balance, in which conservatives have a 6-3 majority over liberals.

The Supreme Court is the final appellate court of the U.S. judicial system, with the power to review and overturn lower court decisions, and is also generally the final interpreter of federal law, including the country’s constitution.

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