Ketanji Brown Jackson – First Black Woman Judge in US Supreme Court

In a historic vote of 53 to 47, the United States Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the United States.

© The White House

Brown, who will be the first Black woman and only third Black person (after Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas) on the Court, will replace Justice Stephen Breyer, whom she clerked for after graduating from Harvard Law School.

While the American Bar Association rated Jackson as unanimously well qualified, only three Republicans voted for Jackson and made for a four-day confirmation hearing, a typical pattern seen on the Hill for the past few years.

What ailed the Republicans?

Recurring issues in her confirmation hearing included Supreme Court expansion, Guantanamo Bay detainees, and her sentencing record as a trial court judge.

Judge Jackson had earlier represented detainees from Guantanamo Bay, and despite the grilling in the hearings, she maintained that she was assigned those cases when she was a public defender and that her role was mostly limited to research.

Republicans also worried that she would vote to expand the Supreme Court from its current nine justices, even though Congress could do such an action, and not the Supreme Court.

This was the concern for North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, even though he found her “undoubtedly highly qualified, knowledgeable and experienced.” Burr defended his position, saying Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer rejected court expansion. However, both Justices spoke of such opposition when they were on the Court, not during their confirmation, where they refused to comment on such, like Jackson.