President Joe Biden’s appointee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Friday (April 8) celebrated her historic confirmation as the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, saying at an outdoor White House event that it shows in America “anything is possible.”
Jackson, a federal appellate judge, was confirmed to the lifetime post by the Senate on Thursday on a 53-47 vote in a milestone for the United States and a political victory for the Democratic president. Jackson, 51, will replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, on the liberal bloc of a court with a 6-3 conservative majority.
“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,” Jackson said an event on the White House South Lawn under sunny skies on a mild spring day in the U.S. capital, with a row of American flags gently fluttering in the background.
“But we’ve made it – we’ve made it – all of us, all of us,” Jackson added as Biden looked on. “And our children are telling me that they see now more than ever that here in America anything is possible.”
The outdoor setting was chosen in part as a nod to COVID-19 safety, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, amid a rise in cases in the Washington region and a raft of top Democrats in Biden’s inner circle contracting the coronavirus.
Jackson, given a standing ovation by the audience, thanked Biden and said “it is the greatest honor of my life” to be standing there after confirmation. Jackson said she will rule independently on the high court “without fear or favor” and with an eye toward upholding the rule of law.
Black women are a key Democratic constituency and helped propel Biden to the party’s presidential nomination in 2020 with a victory in its pivotal South Carolina primary.
Biden made a campaign promise to name a Black woman to the nation’s top judicial body. When Jackson replaces Breyer when he departs at the end of the court’s current term – usually in late June – she would become the 116th justice to serve on the high court. To date, all but three have been white, with two Black members, including current Justice Clarence Thomas, and one Hispanic, current Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
(Production: Colette Luke)