The U.S. Senate voted 53-47 on Thursday to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
What Happened: The vote fell mostly along party lines, with three Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — crossing over in support of Judge Jackson, who weathered attempts by several Republican senators to depict her as a left-wing extremist who was soft on crime.
Jackson will succeed Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who is retiring at the end of the court’s session this summer.
Why It Happened: During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden vowed to nominate a Black woman to the first vacancy on the Supreme Court. The confirmation vote offered a Capitol Hill victory for Biden, although Jackson’s appointment will not impact the conservative majority structure of the court.
The 51-year-old Jackson is a Harvard Law School graduate who is currently serving as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Biden named her to the appeals court last year after serving eight years as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Early in her career, Jackson clerked for Breyer and served as a federal public defender in Washington, D.C.
This marks the first time since Thurgood Marshall’s appointment in 1967 that a Supreme Court justice had previous experience representing criminal defendants.
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