President Joe Biden fulfilled his campaign pledge to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, announcing, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as his pick Friday. If confirmed, the 51-year-old would replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer and become the fourth justice elevated from what many consider the nation's second-most powerful court.
Jackson's confirmation will head to an evenly divided Senate that has seen increasingly partisan battles over Supreme Court nominees in recent years. She was part of, and her appointment to the D.C. Circuit was approved in a 53–44 bipartisan vote. She filled the seat vacated when Merrick Garland, himself a former Supreme Court nominee, became U.S. attorney general.
Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted with Democrats to confirm Jackson to the circuit court. Judiciary Committee member John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, voted in favor of sending her nomination to the full Senate but ultimately voted against her confirmation.
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Senators on both sides of the aisle, including Collins and Graham, released statements Friday on Jackson's Supreme Court nomination, but Murkowski was not among them. Nor was Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, who had previously said he "would love to vote to put the first Black woman on the court."
Former President Barack Obama, who nominated Jackson first as a district judge and then to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, praised her "reputation for pragmatism and consensus building.
"Like Justice Breyer, Judge Jackson understands that the law isn't just about abstract theory. It's about people's lives," he said in a statement Friday.
In the absence of bipartisan support, Mr. Biden would need all 50 Democratic votes, including those of Arizona's Krysten Sinema and West Virginia's Joe Manchin, moderates who have previously bucked some elements of the president's agenda.
Here is some of the reaction from key senators so far:
Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine
"Ketanji Brown Jackson is an experienced federal judge with impressive academic and legal credentials. I will conduct a thorough vetting of Judge Jackson's nomination and look forward to her public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to meeting with her in my office."
Senator Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina
"If media reports are accurate, and Judge Jackson has been chosen as the Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Breyer, it means the radical Left has won President Biden over yet again. The attacks by the Left on Judge Childs from South Carolina apparently worked."
Judiciary Committee member Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee
"President Biden's announcement just days after an unprovoked full scale invasion by Russia is extremely inappropriate," said Senator Blackburn. "Once again, Biden is putting the demands of the radical progressive left ahead of what is best for our nation. It is an attempt to hide that for over three months Biden refused to levy sanctions against Russia or send military assistance to Ukraine. However, I cannot hold President Biden's failure to lead our nation against his nominee. I do plan on meeting with the President's nominee in person, and thoroughly vetting her record to determine if she is a person of high character. A Supreme Court nominee must be committed to upholding the rule of law and Constitution as written. We must not blindly confirm a justice to serve as a rubber stamp for a radical progressive agenda."
Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Illinois
"From a strong list of prospective candidates, President Biden has chosen an extraordinary nominee in D.C. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson," Durbin said in a statement. "To be the first to make history in our nation you need to have an exceptional life story. Judge Jackson's achievements are well known to the Senate Judiciary Committee as we approved her to the D.C. Circuit less than a year ago with bipartisan support. We will begin immediately to move forward on her nomination with the careful, fair, and professional approach she and America are entitled to."
Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
"Justices must have an unwavering commitment to the Constitution—including its limitations on the power of the courts. A justice must also be an unfailing defender of the institution of the court, as Justice Breyer has been," Grassley said in a statement.
"As I always have, I'll make my determination based on the experience, qualifications, temperament and judicial philosophy of the nominee. I look forward to meeting with Judge Jackson face to face on Capitol Hill in the coming days, and working with Senator Durbin to finalize the committee's initial questionnaire and records request, as is customary in this process."
Judiciary Committee member Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota
"Judge Jackson's nomination to the Supreme Court is historic. There have been 115 Supreme Court Justices and if confirmed, she will be the first Black woman. She is a jurist who understands the experiences of everyday Americans and she will bring her unique perspective to the highest court in the land.
"I've been proud to support her three previous nominations, and I look forward to meeting with her and working with my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle on the Senate confirmation hearing."
Judiciary Committee member Josh Hawley, R-Missouri
"Now that President Biden has made his choice for the Supreme Court, I look forward to meeting with Judge Jackson one on one, and to the Judiciary Committee hearings to follow. When Judge Jackson appeared last year before the Judiciary Committee, I was troubled by aspects of her record, including her record on crime and criminal justice. I will be thoroughly reviewing Judge Jackson's record from top to bottom and look forward to speaking with her."
Judiciary Committee member Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont
"Judge Jackson has already demonstrated intellect and impartiality on both the D.C. District Court and the D.C. Circuit Court. The bipartisan votes with which she was confirmed to both these seats is a credit to the record she has shown since first being confirmed by the Senate - unanimously - in 2013. Her record in both the private and public sectors brings a diversity of legal experience that provides informed jurisprudence. This is the kind of nominee we should all expect to our nation's highest court.
"The President has done his job, nominating a highly qualified, experienced judge for elevation to the Supreme Court. The Senate must now do its job - free of politics and political vitriol - to fairly and objectively evaluate this nominee. We have a true opportunity, after careful review, to provide our advice and consent on this historic nominee. "
Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia
"As West Virginia's Senator, I take my Constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on a nominee to the Supreme Court very seriously. Just as I have done with previous Supreme Court nominees, I will evaluate Judge Jackson's record, legal qualifications and judicial philosophy to serve on the highest court in the land. I look forward to meeting with Judge Jackson before determining whether to provide my consent."
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona
"Today's nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court represents a historic milestone for our country. As Arizona's senior Senator, I take seriously my constitutional duty to provide advice and consent, and I thoughtfully consider all presidential nominees based on a three part criteria: whether they are professionally qualified, believe in the role of an independent judiciary, and can be trusted to faithfully interpret and uphold the rule of law. I look forward to meeting with Judge Jackson and discussing her nomination."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky
"The Senate must conduct a rigorous, exhaustive review of Judge Jackson's nomination as befits a lifetime appointment to our highest Court. This is especially crucial as American families face major crises that connect directly to our legal system, such as skyrocketing violent crime and open borders.
"I voted against confirming Judge Jackson to her current position less than a year ago. Since then, I understand that she has published a total of two opinions, both in the last few weeks, and that one of her prior rulings was just reversed by a unanimous panel of her present colleagues on the D.C. Circuit. I also understand Judge Jackson was the favored choice of far-left dark-money groups that have spent years attacking the legitimacy and structure of the Court itself."
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