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After 232 years and 116 Justices, the first Black woman named to Supreme Court

Minutes after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black female U.S. Supreme Court Justice in 232 years, in a historic bipartisan 53-47 vote, Reverend Jesse Jackson and several prominent African American women said she is the best of Black womanhood and a prime example of why voting matters.

On Thursday, April 7 at 1:17 p.m., Vice President Kamala Harris announced the historic, bipartisan vote that caused supporters in the Senate chambers to explode in cheers and applause for a final victory after a tough and contentious confirmation hearing.

Three Republicans voted for Judge Jackson, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Reverend Jackson said the historic Senate vote confirming Judge Jackson proves “voting matters.”

Judge Jackson is the third Black Justice after Thurgood Marshall, who was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Clarence Thomas, who was appointed by President H.W. Bush. Judge Jackson is the sixth female appointed to the High Court.

“Ketanji Brown Jackson is overwhelmingly qualified,” Reverend Jackson said. “She is in the lineage of Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman to argue before the Supreme Court including arguing 10 landmark civil rights cases winning nine of them; Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court Justice, U.S. Judge Matthew Curry and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Judge Jackson is a change for the better. When we vote in great numbers, voting matters. Biden made good on one of his promises,” said Reverend Jackson.

Former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL) told the Chicago Crusader she is “delighted and over the moon happy about Judge Jackson’s confirmation.

“Since 1789, there have been 115 Supreme Court justices. She is the first Black woman and will bring a perspective and life experience the court has not had since Thurgood Marshall. Her being on the Supreme Court matters greatly and has the potential to transform America.”

Attorney C.K. Hoffler, chairperson of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition board said, “I am extremely excited.”

“She is the only U.S. Supreme Court Justice who defended people who was a federal public defender,” Hoffler stated. “To have her confirmed for me is not just historic. It represents validation because it is so important to see yourself on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It is so important for Black women, for Black men, for Black and Brown women, young girls, a rainbow coalition of people, as Reverend Jackson says, for this country to see this eminently qualified jurist elevated to the highest court in the land because this is her rightful place.

“She has earned it. She has always been outstanding in everything she has done from a very, very young age. I am filled with pride and joy, and I cried as the votes came in.”

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Left to Right: Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris

Hoffler said she noticed that it was Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) from her home state who cast the fiftieth vote. When she connects all the dots, she says, they lead to Rev. Jackson and his southern voter crusade campaigns that made a difference in many elections. The results opened doors of opportunity for many seeking offices including Warnock who won a special election in January 2021.

During the debate before the Senate confirmation vote, Warnock, who is one of the Senate’s three Black members, said, “I’m the father of a young Black girl. I know how much it means for Judge Jackson to have navigated the double jeopardy of racism and sexism to now stand in the glory of this moment…. Seeing Judge Jackson ascend to the Supreme Court reflects the promise of progress on which our democracy rests. What a great day it is in America.”

Reverend Janette Wilson, senior advisor to Reverend Jackson, said, “Today we celebrate the appointment of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court. She represents the best of legal scholarship, judicial temperament, and demonstrates a firm grasp of her constitutional limits and scope of her authority as a judge.

“Her presence on the court will bring a unique perspective and a comprehensive interpretation of the law. She stands on the shoulders of Attorney Constance Baker Motley. She is in the tradition of many female attorneys including Charlotte E. Ray, and former Congresswoman Barbara Charline Jordan.

“Dr. King would be proud that she was judged by the ‘content of her character’ and not the color of her skin,” said Wilson.

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Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

Prior to the vote, Democratic Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer referred to the pandemic that caused “people getting sick and dying, stores closing, schools shutting their doors, but even in the darkest times, there are bright lights. Today is one of the brightest lights. Let us hope it is a metaphor, an indication of many more bright lights to come,” he said of Judge Jackson.

Senator Schumer emphasized Judge Jackson “is the best fit,” having been “brilliant, beloved, belongs…a brilliant jurist.”

However, during the Senate hearings, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), indicated that Judge Jackson would not have gotten through if the chamber were Republican controlled, but the praises for Judge Jackson continued.

Noted Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), “I commend President Biden for nominating her. He has found the right person to serve as the 116th Justice of the Supreme Court, and I am overjoyed to cast my vote in favor of a brilliant jurist who will inspire generations to come.”

President Biden, who had invited Judge Jackson to the White House to watch the Senate vote, later tweeted, “Judge Jackson’s confirmation was a historic moment for our nation. 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.”

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