On Thursday, the full Senate voted to confirm federal appeals court judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson will join the Court next term as its 116th justice after the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, for whom Jackson once clerked, becomes official this summer.
Jackson, 51, will be the first Black woman and former public defender to ever sit on the nation’s highest court. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin put it simply while casting his vote to confirm her: “She is the best of us,” he said.
The day was particularly momentous for two of the nation’s highest-profile Black politicians, each of whom played key ceremonial roles as Jackson wound her way through the last few twists and turns of the Senate’s procedural maze. A positively giddy Cory Booker, one of only three Black senators and her loudest champion during her confirmation hearings, presided over the vote that ended debate on her nomination. Vice President Kamala Harris, who presided over the formal confirmation vote, beamed as the ayes rolled in. Booker, too, was unable to contain his joy, and drew laughs in the chamber for yelping “YES” when his turn arrived.
Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock also reflected on the historic nature of Jackson’s confirmation, which she and President Joe Biden watched together at the White House. “I’m the father of a young Black girl,” he said. “I know how much it means for Judge Jackson to have navigated the double jeopardy of racism and sexism to now stand in the glory of this moment.”
Harris, speaking with reporters afterwards, called Jackson’s confirmation “a very important statement about who we are as a nation.”
“It’s an extraordinary day,” she said.