On April 7 Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as the first African-American woman to hold the position of Supreme Court Justice. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By Deborah Bailey, Alexis Taylor and Nadia Reese
AFRO Editorial Staff

On April 7 the world watched as a Senate vote confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

The announcement that a Black woman would finally sit on the highest court in the land was made by the first African-American Vice President, Kamala Harris.

“On this vote, the yays are 53, the nays are 47, and this nomination is confirmed,” Harris announced, making history. 

Jackson’s nomination was affirmed in the Senate by an expected narrow margin of 53-47.

Members of the Senate voted along party lines, with the exception of three Republican Senators, Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-UT). The three Republican Senators publicly endorsed Brown Jackson in the days after her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

The Senate Chamber erupted in shouts of joy and applause as Harris completed the final tally of votes and announced the confirmation. The upper galleries were full of members of Congress and staff.

Statements of celebration have poured in from across the nation. The NAACP has added Jackson’s image to its website with a statement affirming the Senate vote.

“This has taken far too long. Fifty-five years ago, former NAACP Chief Counsel Thurgood Marshall broke down the wall when he was confirmed as the first Black American to sit on the Supreme Court. Today, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson shatters the glass ceiling to finally make room for a Black woman on our nation’s highest court.”

In this image from Senate Television video, Vice President Kamala Harris speaks after the Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court at the U.S. Capitol, April 7, in Washington, D.C.. (Senate Television via AP)

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus gathered on the eve of the historic vote donning tee-shirts with the message “Black Women Are Supreme.”

The African-American Mayors Association issued a statement saying  “As African-American mayors, we are well aware of the importance of representation in a society that seeks to ensure everyone can thrive.”

“We are excited about Judge Jackson’s confirmation because we understand that her breadth and depth of legal experience, lived experiences and deep commitment to equal justice will ensure all Americans, no matter their race or background, are better represented on the highest court,” said the Association.

Brown Jackson joined President Joe Biden at the White House to watch the vote.  She will take her seat as an Associate Justice on the court when Justice Stephen Breyer retires this summer on June 27

Jackson will join three other women on the Supreme Court: Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett. This will be the first time in U.S. history that there are four women on the Supreme Court. 

“The courage Judge Brown Jackson displayed to embark upon the nomination and confirmation processes is truly remarkable,” said Maryland Congressman Kweisi Mfume, of the Seventh District. “I am confident her unique experiences with the law will bring an invaluable perspective to the Court and prepare her to uphold justice for all. Today, we start a new chapter in American history.” 

Upon casting his vote, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) helped forever change the country’s history. 

“As a senator, one of the most important responsibilities I have under the Constitution is whether to provide my consent to a president’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land,” said Cardin. “Today, I cast my vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court because she is one of the most qualified individuals ever nominated to this lifetime position.” 

Cardin said that Judge Jackson “has sterling legal credentials, depth of knowledge, immense integrity and – as we witnessed over days of marathon hearings – incredible judicial temperament.” 

“The Supreme Court makes profound decisions every day that affect the lives of people across this country and it is clear that Judge Jackson will work to preserve and protect the Constitution, and to make sure that all Americans are treated equally under the law,” he added.

U.S. House Representative Alma Adams (D-NC-12) said that “Change comes slowly to the Supreme Court.”

“It wasn’t until 1916 that Louis Brandeis became the first Jewish man on the Supreme Court. It wasn’t until 1967 that Thurgood Marshall became the first Black associate justice, and it wasn’t until 1981 – over two centuries after the Declaration of Independence – that Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman nominated and confirmed to our country’s highest court,” she said. “That is why Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation is the reason for celebration. Not only will she be the first Black woman in our nation’s history to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; but she will also be a role model to women and girls everywhere. Her presence on the bench will be another reminder that women from every background belong everywhere decisions are being made.”

Adams noted that “Justice Jackson is yet another example of the role Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) play in the social and economic mobility of Black Americans.” 

“Both of Jackson’s parents attended HBCUs, including North Carolina Central University, creating the opportunity for their daughter to attend Harvard,” said Adams. “Now, for the first time, a daughter of HBCU graduates is joining the Supreme Court. I join millions of Americans in sharing in the pride that Justice Jackson’s parents feel today.”

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