US poised to make history seating first Black woman on Supreme Court
April 7, 2022 08:56 PM
The United States stood on the cusp of history Thursday with the Senate on the verge of confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court.
If the 51-year-old is confirmed -- which is all but assured barring a dramatic reversal -- white men will not be the majority on the nation's premier judicial bench for the first time in 233 years.
"It will be a joyous day: joyous for the Senate, joyous for the Supreme Court, joyous for America," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor late Wednesday.
"While we still have a long way to go, America... will take a giant step to becoming a more perfect nation."
Schumer said the upper chamber will hold an initial procedural vote on Jackson's nomination at 11:00 am (1500 GMT) before a final vote around 1:45 pm.
Jackson picked up support from three Senate Republicans during a relatively short but grueling confirmation process, delivering President Joe Biden a bipartisan vote for his first high court nominee.
It is a huge moment for the president, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1980s and 90s, meaning he has the unprecedented distinction of both naming and overseeing the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice.
At 42 days, the process will be among the shortest in history, although longer than it took to seat Donald Trump's last pick as president, Amy Coney Barrett.
Four of the justices will be women once Jackson takes her seat, making it the most diverse bench in history -- although every justice went to law school at Harvard or Yale.
Jackson replaces the retiring liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, for whom she clerked at the turn of the century.
So while her confirmation is a milestone, it won't change the 6-3 conservative majority on the court, and that took some of the sting out of a fight that could have been even more vitriolic.
Nevertheless Schumer, who has had to endure a 50-50 Senate longer than any majority leader in history, had to steer Jackson through a contentious and at times emotionally draining confirmation process.
Republicans accused the Washington appeals court judge of being "soft" on child pornographers, despite her sentencing record being in line with other federal judges.
Others implied that she was sympathetic to terrorists due to her work as a federal public defender representing detainees from the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and one even suggested that she would have been sympathetic to Nazi war criminals.
Lisa Murkowski, one of a Republican trio of Jackson backers, said in a statement her endorsement was a "rejection of the corrosive politicization of the review process."
Another Republican Jackson supporter, Susan Collins, lamented how partisan the process had become, noting that senators used to give presidents from the opposing party more deference on Supreme Court picks.
"This is the approach that I plan to continue to use for Supreme Court nominations because it runs counter to the disturbing trend of politicizing the judicial nomination process," she said.
While the process was highly divisive, Jackson has maintained strong backing among the voters paying attention to her confirmation.
A new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows almost half of voters say the Senate should support her. Just 26 percent don't think she should get a yes vote, while 25 percent had no opinion.