Administration

Jackson marks historic confirmation: ‘We’ve made it, all of us’

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson addresses her family, friends, supporters and members of Congress at an event to commemorate her confirmation to the Supreme Court on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday, April 8, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson addresses her family, friends, supporters and members of Congress at an event to commemorate her confirmation to the Supreme Court on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday, April 8, 2022.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said that her family, in one generation, went from segregation to the Supreme Court in remarks at an event at the White House celebrating her historic confirmation.

“As I take on this new role, I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride. We have come a long way towards perfecting our union. In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Jackson said at the White House.

The Senate confirmed Jackson’s nomination on Thursday, making her the first Black woman in U.S. history to serve on the Supreme Court when she is sworn in later this year. 

“I am the hope and the dream of the slave,” Jackson said, quoting Maya Angelou.

Jackson is also the first public defender to ascend to the high court. In addition, her swearing in will mark the first time white men haven’t made up the majority on the court.

“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. But we’ve made it,” she said, to applause from the crowd. “We’ve made it, all of us, all of us. And our children are telling me that they see now, more than ever, that here in America anything is possible.“

The event on the South Lawn of the White House was filled with hundreds in the audience, cheering, applause and hugging with joy while President Biden and Vice President Harris marked Jackson’s confirmation.

Jackson said that children tell her she is a role model and that she received thousands of supportive notes during her confirmation process.

“I am feeling up to the task primarily because I know that I am not alone, I am standing on the shoulders of my own role models,” she said. “Generations of Americans who never had anything close to this opportunity but got up every day and went to work, believing in the promise of America, showing others through their determination and, yes, their perseverance, that good, good things can be done in this great country.”

Jackson’s parents attended segregated schools and were the first in their family to go to college. Her parents, brother, in-laws, husband and daughters were all present at the White House event.

Jackson added that Martin Luther King Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall and Judge Constance Baker Motley, whom she called her personal heroine, did the “heavy lifting” to make her confirmation possible.

“For all of the talk of this historic nomination and now, confirmation, I think of them as the true path breakers, I’m just the very lucky first inheritor of the dream of liberty and justice for all,” she said.

Jackson spent much of the rest of her remarks thanking family members, senators, colleagues, the White House staff, former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who shepherded her through the confirmation process, and even her Harvard University roommates.

While she noted her hard work to get to this point, she said, “the path was cleared for me so that I may rise to this occasion.”

Biden marked the celebratory feeling at the White House on a sunny spring day before introducing Jackson. 

“This is not only a sunny day,” the president said. “This is going to let so much sun shine on so many young women, so many young Black women, so many minorities that it’s real.”

He said that the 20 hours of questioning Jackson endured from the Senate showed Americans “the kind of justice she’ll be” and her “brilliant legal mind with deep knowledge of the law,” as well as her calm temperament and humility.

He said her work as a public defender brings “a new perspective” to the court. And he decried the manner that some Republicans treated Jackson, calling it “verbal abuse.”

Senators voted 53-47 to confirm Jackson. All Democrats voted for Jackson’s confirmation, and Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mitt Romney (Utah) were the only Republicans to join them.

“Judge, you are the very definition of what we Irish refer to as dignity,” Biden said.

Jackson’s confirmation is a significant victory for Biden, who has been plagued with poor approval ratings for months. It gives Biden a much-needed win and some potential political momentum as Democrats head into a tough midterm season.

Biden thanked Harris for her work during the confirmation process and thanked Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and others, who were all present at the White House.

Jackson is set to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who received praise from Biden and Jackson but was not present at the event. Breyer plans to retire at the end of the current term, in the summer.

Biden also acknowledged how far Jackson has come since she was dissuaded from applying to Harvard Law School.

“I’d like to invite her to the Supreme Court, she can see the interior,” Biden said about “whoever” dissuaded Jackson.

Jackson on Thursday watched the vote at the White House with Biden. Harris, who is the first Black woman to serve as vice president, presided over the historic vote.

Harris opened the event on Friday by commenting, “Today is indeed a wonderful day.”

She said that Jackson will inspirate a generation of leaders.

“They will see, for the first time, four women sitting on that court at one time,” Harris said.

Tags Black Americans Black female supreme court justice Constance Baker Motley Joe Biden Kamala Harris Ketanji Brown Jackson Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court nomination Supreme Court nomination
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