By: Adrian Jacobs
After Stephen Breyer, at the age of 83, announced his retirement on January 27, 2022, from the U.S Supreme Court, an opportunity for President Joe Biden to fill the upcoming vacancy arose. On February 25, 2022, Biden announced that he would nominate Ketanji Brown Jackson to the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Jackson would make history as the first black woman to sit as a Supreme Court Justice since the founding of the Court in 1790.
Prior to the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the moment a “joyous, momentous, groundbreaking day.” Schumer went on to say, “In the 233-year history of the Supreme Court, never, never has a Black woman held the title of Justice. Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first, and I believe the first of more to come.” Jackson was deeply touched by these kind words.
On April 7, 2022, shortly before 2 p.m., with Vice President Kamala Harris presiding over the chamber, the vote began. Senators sat at their desks, rising one by one to vote when called upon by the clerk. Republicans – Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah – had already announced that they would support Jackson, giving her the confirmed bipartisan assistance that the Biden administration proposed and certainly wanted.
The final vote was 53-47, with all 50 Democratic caucus members supporting Jackson and ultimately, making history in the United States Government.
On the third day of the hearing, Senate Democrats defended Jackson and her record after she was previously taunted by Republican Senators. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey brought Jackson to tears with an emotional speech that praised Jackson’s “grit and grace.” Booker told Jackson, “Nobody’s going to steal that joy” from her nomination. “You have earned this spot,” Booker finished.
The vote means Jackson will take office at the end of the court’s current term around June or July when Justice Stephen Breyer plans to step down.
Not only did Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson make history with her appointment, she also opened up more opportunities and doorways for women of color and their representation in the United States Government.