(CNN) –In a landmark vote, US Senate Judge Kitangi Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee, confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court. She would be the first black woman to reach the highest court in the country.
The final confirmation vote requires only a simple majority. The results were 53-47 as Republicans Susan Collins, Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski joined hands in favor of the Democrats.
Vice President Kamala Harris, the first black woman to hold the position, presided over the historic vote. In addition, Biden and Jackson watched the Senate vote from the Roosevelt Room in the White House.
The nomination cleared a major hurdle earlier Thursday when the Senate held a procedural vote to limit debate and break the disruption.
Although he received Senate approval, Jackson would not take office immediately. Specifically, he will have to wait until Judge Stephen Breyer retires to take the oath. In his letter to President Joe Biden last January, Breyer said his retirement would be effective at the end of the Supreme Court’s current term, assuming confirmation of his successor. The term is expected to expire sometime in late June or early July.
Balance in the Supreme Court after the confirmation of Jackson
Now, Jackson’s assertion does not alter the court’s ideological balance. Currently, the highest court has six Conservative and three Liberal justices, and retired Justice Stephen Breyer hails from the liberal camp. But the confirmation represents an important historical milestone for the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary.
Democrats in the White House and Senate have highlighted the historic nature of this appointment.
Ahead of the final vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the moment “a joyful, dangerous and groundbreaking day.”
“The Senate will fulfill its constitutional duty to confirm once and for all this wonderful and innovative jurist,” he said.
Schumer continued, “In the 233-year history of the Supreme Court, a black woman has never received a title of justice. Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first and I think she is the first of many people who will come.”
A win for the Democrats
The confirmation represents a victory for Democrats, who can describe them as bipartisan, and a way for the president to deliver on his campaign promise at a time when the party faces a host of challenges at home and abroad. Among them are rotating inflation and the crisis in Ukraine.
Biden had said during his 2020 presidential campaign that he was committed to nominating a black woman to the Supreme Court if elected.
“If I am elected president and have the opportunity to appoint someone to the courts, I will appoint the first black woman to the court,” Biden said in March 2020. “They are required to represent now, for a long time.”
At one point during the Senate confirmation hearings, Jackson became visibly emotional and could be seen wiping tears as Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of only three black senators, spoke about his way to victory. to overcome it.
“My parents grew up at a time in this country when black and white children were not allowed to go to school together,” Jackson told Booker after the senator asked what values her parents instilled in her. “They taught me to work hard. They taught me to persevere. They taught me that anything is possible in this great country.”
What happened during the commitment
The Senate chamber was packed with votes, with most senators in their offices at this historic moment.
Because of that, the vote moved quickly at first, but then remained open for a time when it became clear that only Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky did not vote. The room waited for his arrival and voting before closing.
While the camera was waiting for Paul, lawmakers and the people on the show worried. Several Democratic senators began talks with some members of the black legislature in Congress who were in the House to monitor the vote.
Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jim Inhoff of Oklahoma voted out the Republican Wardrobe because they did not wear neckties, as required by Senate rules.
Judge confirmation process
Throughout the Senate investigation process, Democrats have praised Jackson as an exceptionally qualified, innovative candidate who will add depth and breadth of experience, including as a federal public defender, a valuable and unique perspective to the court.
Jackson was also a member of the U.S. Sentencing Committee and served on the federal district court in Washington, appointed by former President Barack Obama, before Biden took her to the Washington circuit in 2021.
The confirmation hearings included sharp and critical questions from Republicans, with many attempting to portray Jackson as weak on crime, and in a highly charged offensive line, too lenient in judging child pornography cases. Jackson and Democrats vehemently rejected the allegations.
Jackson has emphasized her interest in public safety and the rule of law, both as a judge and as an American. He said he treats his work with integrity and that personal opinions do not play a role.
Republicans called for civility and respect during the hearings, arguing that Democrats did not extend that to Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate’s investigative process. Kavanaugh faced an allegation of sexual assault, which he vehemently denied.
Democrats, however, argued that Republicans went overboard by distorting Jackson’s record, particularly with regard to sentencing cases involving child pornography.
A CNN review of the material in question shows that Jackson mostly followed court ruling practices in these types of cases.
Jackson earns Republican support
Announcing their support for the nomination, Murkowski and Collins expressed concern about what they described as the politicization of the Supreme Court confirmation process.
Murkowski said he rejects the “devastating politicization of the Supreme Court nominee review process, which, on both sides of the aisle, is getting worse every year and further away from reality” in his statement.
“No matter where you are on the ideological spectrum, anyone who has seen several recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings will come to the conclusion that the process is broken,” Collins said in his statement.
“It was common practice for senators to give the president, regardless of political party, great respect in choosing a candidate,” Collins said.
The Maine Republican said this approach “instilled confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and helped keep the Court above political strife,” adding, “This is the approach I plan to continue to use in nominations” to the Supreme Court because it runs counter to a disturbing trend of politicizing the judicial nomination process. .
CNN’s Megan Vasquez and Tierney Snead contributed to this report.