Senate confirms Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to Supreme Court in historic vote: USC experts react
The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Tim Sackton.)

Senate confirms Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to Supreme Court in historic vote: USC experts react

Political and legal specialists share their thoughts on the first Black woman Supreme Court justice in history.
ByJenesse Miller

All 50 Democrats in the United States Senate on Thursday backed President Joe Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. They were joined by Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah.

The bipartisan vote means Jackson will be the first Black woman to sit on the highest court upon the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, expected in June or July.

“The confirmation of Judge Jackson shows that the civil rights movement is making real progress; this is a transformational moment,” said Alison Dundes Renteln, professor of political science, anthropology, law and public policy at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

“The important contributions of women of color are being recognized, as they should be, and there is certainly no going back,” continued Renteln.

“Young children will see that equality of opportunity is a reality, more so than before. This is significant; we should not underestimate the power of role models.”

Robert Shrum, director of the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future and a former political strategist, described the Republicans’ line of questioning a “partisan bloodbath focused on ugly and disgraceful accusations about her work as a public defender.”

“What was she supposed to do, fail to make the best case for her clients?” asked Shrum. “That would have been a dereliction of her sworn duty.”

As Jackson herself explained during the hearing: “Defense lawyers perform a service, and our system is exemplary throughout the world precisely because we ensure that people who are accused of crimes are treated fairly.”

The newest Supreme Court justice appears unscathed by the criticism lobbed at her during the hearings. A recent poll showed Jackson’s nomination was supported by 66% of Americans — making her possibly the most popular nominee since pollsters started asking Americans about the Supreme Court.

“Despite political polarization, our government has demonstrated it can function properly,” said Renteln. “This is truly a day to rejoice.”

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