The White House held an event to mark the Senate confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first African-American woman to serve as a Justice in the nine-member bench of the Supreme Court.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris showed up at the South Lawn on Friday afternoon, alongside Judge Jackson, in front of a cheering crowd, reports Xinhua news agency.
Biden underlined in his remarks that Jackson “showed the incredible character and integrity” in the face of a contentious confirmation in the Senate.
“I knew the person I nominated would be put through a painful and difficult confirmation process,” the veteran Democrat continued. “What Judge Jackson was put through was well beyond that.”
Jackson, emotional at the event, said that “it is the greatest honor of my life”.
The Senate confirmed Jackson for the nation’s highest court in a 53 to 47 vote, which fell largely along party lines.
Republicans explained their opposition by casting doubt on Jackson’s judicial record, accusing her of leniency in cases, in attacks that Democrats have rejected.
Biden announced in late February the nomination of Jackson, 51, to succeed liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who is about to retire this summer.
It was one of Biden’s major promises to fill a potential Supreme Court vacancy with an African-American woman, which arguably helped turn his 2020 campaign around and set him on a path to the White House.
Jackson, who has sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since June 2021, won’t be sworn in until after Breyer formally retires.
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 US Sentencing Commission for four years.
Jackson also served more than eight years as a judge on the US District Court for the District of Columbia before being elevated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Supreme Court is the final appellate court of the US 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.
The justices have life tenure and can serve until they die, resign, retire, or are impeached and removed from office.
This year, the Supreme Court will rule on cases involving a series of major issues, including abortion, affirmative action, and guns.
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.