Ketanji Brown Jackson at her confirmation hearing
Ketanji Brown Jackson at her confirmation hearing

With Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris pre­sid­ing, Judge Ketan­ji Brown Jack­son today became the first Black woman to ever be con­firmed as a Jus­tice of the Unit­ed States Supreme Court. The final vote in favor of her con­fir­ma­tion was 53–47, with three Repub­li­can sen­a­tors join­ing all Democ­rats and inde­pen­dents in vot­ing yea.

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was as follows:

Vot­ing Yea: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR), Jon Tester (MT); Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Lisa Murkows­ki (AK)

Vot­ing Nay: Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Dan Sul­li­van (AK), Steve Daines (MT)

Sen­a­tors Lisa Collins, Mitt Rom­ney, and Lisa Murkows­ki had all announced in recent days that they would sup­port Jack­son’s con­fir­ma­tion, ensur­ing that Vice Pres­i­dent Har­ris’ tiebreak­ing vote would not be need­ed for a suc­cess­ful outcome.

Jack­son will suc­ceed Jus­tice Stephen Brey­er, who was nom­i­nat­ed to the Court by Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and con­firmed on July 29th, 1994. Brey­er announced his retire­ment sev­er­al weeks ago in an appear­ance at the White House with Pres­i­dent Joe Biden. Biden sub­se­quent­ly ful­filled his pledge to nom­i­nate a Black woman as his first pick for the Unit­ed States Supreme Court. Jack­son just so hap­pens to be one of Brey­er’s for­mer clerks, and Brey­er has made it clear he thinks high­ly of her.

Jack­son is cur­rent­ly serv­ing on the Unit­ed States Court of Appeals for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Cir­cuit. Before that, she was a dis­trict court judge. She is a Har­vard alum and worked in pri­vate prac­tice and as a pub­lic defend­er before join­ing the Unit­ed States Sen­tenc­ing Com­mis­sion dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion — a posi­tion to which she was con­firmed unanimously.

In 2012, Jack­son was nom­i­nat­ed for the fed­er­al bench by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma. Future House Speak­er Paul Ryan, who had just fin­ished serv­ing as Mitt Rom­ney’s unsuc­cess­ful run­ning mate, intro­duced Jack­son at her con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, remark­ing: “Our pol­i­tics may dif­fer, but my praise for Ketan­ji’s intel­lect, for her char­ac­ter, for her integri­ty, it is unequivocal.”

Jack­son is the most accom­plished and qual­i­fied Supreme Court nom­i­nee in many, many years, and arguably one of the most qual­i­fied ever. Even Repub­li­cans who oppose her nom­i­na­tion have admit­ted that she is supreme­ly well qual­i­fied. Unlike Amy Coney Bar­rett, Trump’s last nom­i­nee for the Court, Ken­tan­ji Brown Jack­son has been a fed­er­al judge at mul­ti­ple lev­els, includ­ing the appel­late level.

The Amer­i­can Bar Asso­ci­a­tion gave Jack­son its top rat­ing, with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the ABA, D. Jean Veta, stat­ing to the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee: “She pos­sess­es all of the oth­er impor­tant attrib­ut­es of a great jurist. She is prac­ti­cal and intu­itive and curi­ous and cour­te­ous and always impec­ca­bly well prepared.”

Jack­son is also one of the most pop­u­lar Supreme Court nom­i­nees ever. A poll con­duct­ed by Gallup last month found that 58% of respon­dents favored Jack­son’s con­fir­ma­tion, 30% opposed it, and 12% had no opin­ion. Those are extreme­ly robust num­bers for a Supreme Court nom­i­nee in high­ly polar­ized times.

Jack­son will take office and replace Brey­er at the end of the cur­rent Supreme Court term, which is when Brey­er plans to step down.

The White House says tomor­row, the Senate’s his­toric, bipar­ti­san con­fir­ma­tion of Judge Jackson’s nom­i­na­tion to be an Asso­ciate Jus­tice of the Supreme Court. This is sched­uled for 9:15 AM Pacif­ic Time on the South Lawn.

“Judge Jack­son is one of the most excep­tion­al Supreme Court nom­i­nees I have ever met, and I am so excit­ed that she’s on her way to the Supreme Court. It is incred­i­bly well deserved, and incred­i­bly good news for our coun­try,” said Wash­ing­ton’s senior U.S. Sen­a­tor, Pat­ty Mur­ray. “The bot­tom line for me is always — can I tell my con­stituents back home in Wash­ing­ton state that if they ever have a case before this judge, this is some­one who will lis­ten, some­one who will under­stand, some­one who will make a thought­ful, fair deci­sion for them based on the laws of our nation? And the answer with Judge Jack­son is a resound­ing yes.”

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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