The U.S. Senate voted 53-47 Thursday to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman in the nation’s history to serve on its highest court.
Three Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — gave President Joe Biden a bipartisan endorsement for his choice of Jackson to replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.
Jackson was nominated to replace Breyer, who announced in February that he will retire at the end of the court’s current term. Biden, who announced the nomination of Jackson on Feb. 25, said then he hoped to have Jackson confirmed to the court before the Senate’s Easter break, which begins Friday.
Jackson sat through four days of hearings and, at times, faced a blistering line of questioning from some Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who asked about her sentencing record on the federal bench. The senators focused on sentences she handed down in child pornography cases, which some claimed were too light.
At the end of the process, all 11 Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee voted against the nomination, leading Democrats to a procedural vote of the full Senate to move the nomination past the deadlock and out of the committee.
Following the hearing, Collins, Murkowski and Romney announced they would vote to confirm her to the Supreme Court
Collins and Murkowski both took aim at the increasingly partisan confirmation process, which Collins called “broken” and Murkowski said was “more detached from reality by the year.”
During the hearing, Jackson told the panel that her “path was clearer” than theirs as a Black American. Jackson attended Harvard University, served as a public defender, worked at a private law firm and was appointed as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission in addition to her nine years on the federal bench.
She also held three clerkships with federal judges, including in 1999 as a clerk to Justice Breyer.
“I have been a judge for nearly a decade now, and I take that responsibility and my duty to be independent very seriously,” Jackson said. “I decide cases from a neutral posture. I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath.”
Jackson, a 51-year-old federal appeals court judge, will be the third Black justice to sit on the Supreme Court, after Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. She is the sixth woman to become a Supreme Court justice and will join justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett on the current court.
For the first time in history, the court will have four women serving at the same time.
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