Senate confirms Garland’s successor to appeals court

The Senate on Monday confirmed President Biden’s first nomination for the influential appeals courts, filling a vacancy created by Merrick Garland’s Justice Department confirmation.

Senators voted 53-44 to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill a vacancy on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, widely viewed as the second-most powerful court in the country. 

“After the Supreme Court, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is the most important federal court in the country, with jurisdiction over cases involving Congress and executive branch agencies. And Judge Jackson, nominated to the seat once occupied by the current attorney general, is the perfect person for the job,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday ahead of the vote.

GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) were the only Republicans who supported Jackson’s nomination.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) voted to advance Jackson out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last month but voted against her on the floor.

“Nothing changed. I just voted in committee to move the nomination forward,” Cornyn said about the switch. 

Brown’s confirmation will make her one of the few African American women to serve on the appeals court and comes as she’s garnering buzz as a potential Supreme Court nominee if Justice Stephen Breyer retires.

Jackson, who’s currently a federal district court judge in D.C., was previously considered for the Supreme Court in 2016 when former President Obama was searching for a nominee following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama ultimately went with Garland, whose nomination process was blocked by the GOP-controlled Senate.

Jackson, who is 50, would be the youngest Supreme Court justice if she was nominated and confirmed to the country’s highest court.

Progressive groups rallied behind Jackson’s nomination, including Demand Justice, which went up with a six-figure digital and radio ad last week supporting Jackson’s nomination. 

Wade Henderson, the interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, added that Jackson’s nomination marks “the first time in nearly 10 years, the Senate is set to confirm a Black woman to serve on a federal appeals court.”

The Senate’s work on Biden’s judicial nominees comes after former President Trump, aided by the then-GOP controlled Senate, moved at a breakneck pace to fulfill a decades-old conservative goal of remaking the judiciary. 

But those nominees were overwhelmingly white, young and conservative.

Democrats have vowed to make their own mark on the judiciary, diversifying their nominees in terms of not only race and gender but also life experience. 

“Let me read a headline from this morning’s Washington Post: ‘Biden has nominated as many minority women to be judges in four months as Trump had confirmed in four years,’” Schumer said. “That is an amazing, amazing statistic.”

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Joe Biden John Cornyn Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Merrick Garland Stephen Breyer Susan Collins

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