New York lawmakers Thursday applauded the historic confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the first African American woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jackson will be replacing Justice Stephen Bryer, who announced his retirement earlier this year, when he steps down at the end of the current term in June. While a historic milestone for Black representation in the nation’s highest court, Jackson’s confirmation won’t change the ideological makeup of 9-3 conservative court because she’s one liberal justice replacing another.
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D – NY) said she was proud to cast her vote for the first Black woman to serve as one of the nine justices on the Supreme Court.
“Throughout her confirmation process, Justice Jackson exhibited the steady temperament, legal expertise and dedication to equal justice that our nation needs on the Supreme Court. Justice Jackson will make history in more ways than one: not only will she be the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, but she will also be the Court’s first former public defender. In this moment, her experience and perspective could not be more needed. I was honored to cast my vote to confirm Justice Jackson to the Supreme Court and look forward to seeing her build a long and distinguished career.”
Jackson was confirmed by a 53 to 47 vote margin, with all 50 Senate Democrats and even three Republicans – U.S. Sens. Mitt Romney (R – UT), Susan Collins (R – ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R – AK) – voting to confirm her. The vote followed a contentious confirmation hearing process last month where several conservative Senate Republicans tried to derail Jackson’s nomination by painting her an acolyte of the far-left who’s soft on crime.
But Democrats have applauded Jackson for her ability to stay calm and composed under intense Republican scrutiny.
Jackson’s backers also point to her deep academic and judicial qualifications – she graduated from Harvard law school, clerked for three federal judges, worked as a federal trial court judge in D.C. for eight years and spent the past year on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Jackson also did a stint as a federal public defender, something U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks said will be a valuable addition to the court.
“Furthermore, her distinct background cultivated through her time as a public defender will provide the Court with a unique perspective rooted in our criminal justice system,” Meeks said in a statement. “As I look towards the future of the Supreme Court, I cannot help but think about the profound impact that Judge Jackson will have on Black women across America. To realize a more perfect union, our democratic institutions must reflect the diversity of our Nation. Her unprecedented achievement is a testament to the tenacity and contributions of Black women to our society.”
Mayor Eric Adams, only the second Black mayor to lead New York City, said Jackson’s appointment is a big step forward for Black women around the country.
“I congratulate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to be confirmed as an Associate Justice to the highest court in the land,” Adams said. “Her confirmation is a historic moment for our country, and an inspiring signal to every little girl, especially Black girls, all across this country that there is no limit to what they can accomplish. Today, we take one more step toward a court that better reflects the diversity of the United States — and a more perfect union for all.”