The U.S. Senate voted 53-47 today to confirm President Joe Biden’s nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Every Democrat in the chamber along with Republican Sens. Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins of Utah, Alaska, and Maine, respectively, voted in favor of Jackson’s nomination. Jackson will thus replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement in January, in June or July of this year.
Jackson’s confirmation fulfills a key Biden campaign trail promise: to appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court. Numerous left-wing activist groups have praised Jackson’s nomination, including progressive dark money group Demand Justice, which had been publicly pushing Biden to nominate Jackson in particular.
Conservative groups have been less enthusiastic, especially after Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee uncovered myriad controversial facets of Jackson’s prior record as a federal judge.
Jackson, for example, sentenced defendants found guilty of child pornography crimes to lenient prison sentences in every such case brought before her on the bench. Judiciary Committee Republicans grilled Jackson during her confirmation hearings about her prior rulings on child pornography cases, and highlighted her push to eliminate minimum sentences for child pornography crimes.
Jackson also boasts a strong pro-abortion track record stretching back well before she became a federal judge, earning her the support of pro-abortion groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Especially in light of conservative grassroots backlash to the propagation of left-wing ideologies such as Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools, Jackson also found herself in the crosshairs for her prior statements lauding a CRT-influenced curriculum of a private school whose board she sits on – a line of attack that was complicated by Jackson’s refusal to disavow facets of CRT ideology during her confirmation hearings.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel blasted Jackson’s confirmation due to these and other points of contention.
“Biden’s pick Ketanji Brown Jackson is a radical, activist judge, one who failed to answer simple questions on her record, including leniency for child porn offenders and support of CRT,” McDaniel said in a statement released today.
Despite vocal Republican opposition to her confirmation, numerous commentators have drawn a sharp contrast between Jackson’s relatively tame and civil confirmation proceedings with the fraught and chaotic proceedings for the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh back in 2018. Jackson and Republican senators, nevertheless, sparred on multiple occasions. One of the most notable of these interactions was when Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) quizzed Jackson about if she could define “woman” – “no. I can’t. Not in this context. I’m not a biologist,” Jackson replied, garnering widespread ridicule and condemnation from conservative observers.
Although Jackson will make history by becoming the first black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, her confirmation is unlikely to significantly change the balance of power on the court. Following the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in October 2020 to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the conservative wing of the court expanded its slim majority. Jackson replacing Breyer, a noted member of the liberal wing of the court, is unlikely to significantly alter the conservatives’ numerical edge. At age 51, however, Jackson may very well secure a solid liberal seat on the court for decades to come.