US Senate confirms 1st African-American woman to Supreme Court
Washington, Apr 7 (EFE).- The US Senate on Thursday confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s pick for the Supreme Court, making her the first African-American woman to sit on the high court in the 232 years of its history.
Jackson, known colloquially as “KBJ,” needed a simple majority to be confirmed but received 53 votes in favor with all 50 Democrats and three moderate Republicans – Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah – voting for her, while 47 Republican senators voted against her confirmation.
The voting lasted longer than anticipated because GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was more than 15 minutes late in arriving at the Senate chamber to cast his “no” vote.
The White House said that Jackson watched the vote along with Biden on closed circuit television in the Roosevelt Room of the presidential residence.
Presiding over the Senate session was Vice President Kamala Harris, who also serves as president of the upper house, and who is the first African American woman and the first person of South Asian or Asian heritage to attain that office.
Harris read the results of the vote with a smile and the chamber erupted in applause.
The Senate confirmation of Jackson, who since last year has served as a judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, was considered to be a foregone conclusion since Democrats could have approved her without any Republican support, with Harris being able to break a 50-50 tie.
In wrapping up Senate debate on Jackson’s confirmation on Thursday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said that her becoming an associate justice would take a “bold and important step on the well trodden path to fulfilling our country’s founding promise.”
“This is a great moment for Judge Jackson, but it is even a greater moment for America as we rise to a more perfect union,” Schumer said.
Schumer also evoked the image of US children, who soon will be able to open their schoolbooks and feel inspired by seeing a black woman sitting on the highest court in the land.
Jackson’s arrival on the Supreme Court will not change the body’s ideological composition, with the six conservative justices and three progressives forming the court with the most pronounced rightward slant at any time since the 1930s.
However, Jackson has a different career trajectory from the rest of the magistrates, given that she will be the first justice with experience as a public defender for low-income defendants.
The daughter of public school teachers, the 51-year-old Jackson also worked on the US Sentencing Commission to reduce the mandated sentences for the majority of federal drug trafficking crimes, including those involving “crack” cocaine, work that led to the release of at least 1,800 inmates and shortened the sentences of some 12,000.
Jackson will replace progressive Justice Stephen Breyer on the court, given his announcement that he will retire when the current court session concludes in June or July.
The American Bar Association has rated Jackson as “highly qualified.”