It took two votes on Thursday, April 7, one to end debate and one to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next Supreme Court justice, but in the end she received every Democrat and Independents’ vote, along with those of three Republicans, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
The final vote was 53-47 to confirm.
Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, said of Judge Jackson’s confirmation: “This historic nomination could be even more remarkable if Justice Jackson were to use her new position to help end the tragedy of abortion and the industry that intentionally exploits African American women and targets their babies for destruction. Unfortunately, nothing the judge has told us about herself so far indicates she has the conviction or intention to do so.”
Jackson will officially take her place on the high court when Justice Stephen Breyer retires at the end of the current term in late June.
Opposition to Jackson’s nomination, as it developed during her Senate Judiciary committee hearings in March, revolved around several issues, including her inability to describe her own judicial philosophy, or to define what “natural rights” are, or renounce all support for judicial activism or her support for Roe v. Wade as established precedent. Much of the sharpest questioning concerned her lenient sentencing of child pornography and other criminal offenders.
Also concerning was her inability, in response to questioning from Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., to offer a definition of “woman” when asked about a Supreme Court decision which recognized biological differences between men and women.
Jackson’s refusal to define and recognize the simple biological differences between men and women presaged a willingness on her part to support, as a justice, the increasing “wokeness” of the left on such issues as biological men competing in women’s sports or using women’s restroom and locker room facilities, or other areas of law where the differences between men and women have historically been recognized.
The closeness of the vote paralleled similar ideological splits we have witnessed in the last few Supreme Court confirmations, including those of Justice Amy Coney Barrett (52-48), who was confirmed by a straight party line vote in 2020, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh (50-48), whose lone Democrat vote came from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in 2018. Manchin also provided the lone Democrat support for Justice Neil Gorsuch who was confirmed by a vote of 54-45 in 2017.
Judge Jackson is the first African American woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and the third African American overall.
Reaction to Judge Jackson’s confirmation was, as expected, drawn along party lines.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke on the floor of the Senate moments before the final vote was taken.
“In our nation’s history, 115 individuals have been confirmed by this body to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Of those, 108 have been white men, only 4 have been women, only 2 have been African American,” Schumer said. “But Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first African American woman ever to hold the title of Justice. Think about the impact that will have on our democracy.”
“This is one of the great moments of American history,” Schumer said. “This is a great moment for Judge Jackson but it is an even greater moment for America as we rise to a more perfect union.”
However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered his own contrasting comments prior to the vote.
“We’re about to have a new Justice whose fan club has openly attacked the rule of law,” McConnell said. “So Judge Jackson will quickly face a fork in the road. One approach to her new job would delight the far left. A different approach would honor the separation of powers and the Constitution.
“The soon-to-be Justice can either satisfy her radical fan club or help preserve the judiciary that Americans need. But not both.
“I’m afraid the nominee’s record tells us which is likely. But I hope Judge Jackson proves me wrong.”
The White House has announced a press conference for Friday, April 8, at which President Biden and Judge Jackson will offer their reactions the confirmation vote.
Photo from Reuters.