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Congress confirms Biden's pick for SCOTUS

Friday, April 8th 2022 - 22:37 UTC
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Jackson was among the three judges who ruled against former President Donald Trump in his bid to withhold documents from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot Jackson was among the three judges who ruled against former President Donald Trump in his bid to withhold documents from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot

President Joseph Biden recorded a domestic political victory Thursday when the Senate gave the green light and Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as a new Justice into the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), thus becoming the first woman of African American roots to reach that position.

Brown-Jackson had 53 votes in favor, all 50 Democrats and three moderate Republicans (Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah), and 47 against.
The new judge will be replacing departing Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement earlier this year. She will join the Supreme Court at the start of its next term in October.

Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the vote, while Biden and Jackson watched on a TV in the White House Roosevelt Room. “Alright! OK!” Biden said, pumping his fist and wrapping an arm around Jackson’s shoulders. The exchange was shown in an edited White House video released hours later.

“Congratulations! It’s a big day,” Biden said, hugging Jackson before he exited the room. Jackson, who had been serving on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, smiled and took a visibly deep breath, while Democrats on the Senate floor gave her a standing ovation, but were joined on the GOP side only by Romney.

Most Republicans voted against Jackson citing concerns about her judicial philosophy or sentences in certain cases. Sen. Lindsey Graham announced his “no” vote from the cloakroom of the chamber, according to multiple reports, as he did not wear a tie and was not allowed on the Senate floor.

“Judge Jackson’s confirmation was a historic moment for our nation,” Biden posted on social media. “We’ve taken another step toward making our highest court reflect the diversity of America. She will be an incredible Justice, and I was honored to share this moment with her.”

Despite a large number of COVID-19 cases this week among members of Congress, journalists, and White House staff members, a large-scale reception was planned for Friday.

The new judge does not alter the current ideological composition of the court, which currently has six conservatives and three liberals, including Breyer. Jackson’s confirmation comes three days after the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked 11-11 on her nomination, the panel’s first tie vote on a Supreme Court nominee since Clarence Thomas in 1991. The split forced Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer to call a vote discharging the committee from further consideration and bringing the nomination before the full Senate. With only 51 votes needed and Harris waiting to break any ties if necessary, Jackson’s confirmation did not look in jeopardy.

Born in Washington DC, Jackson was raised in Miami and attended Harvard College, graduating in 1992. She briefly worked at Time magazine as a reporter and researcher before returning to Harvard for law school, where she graduated in 1996. She has clerked for multiple federal jurists – including Breyer – and worked as an assistant federal public defender between 2005 and 2007.

During that period, she represented Guantanamo Bay inmate and Afghan terror suspect Khi Ali Gul. Following her time as a public defender, Jackson served as a DC district court judge after being nominated by then-President Barack Obama in 2012.

Many of her sentencings related to child pornography cases came under scrutiny during her marathon confirmation hearing and over the weeks that have followed – with some Republicans calling her decisions overly lenient.

In early 2021, Biden nominated Jackson to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to replace Attorney General Merrick Garland. During her time on the DC Circuit, Jackson was among the three judges who ruled against former President Donald Trump in his bid to withhold documents from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol.

Jackson’s confirmation makes her the fourth current Supreme Court justice to be elevated from the DC Circuit, joining Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The high court has also welcomed several other DC Circuit alums in the past, including the late Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well as former Chief Justice Warren Burger.

Categories: Politics, United States.

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