(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden marked the historic confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to reach the Supreme Court Friday.
“Our children can look at this moment and go ‘I was there,’ Biden said, as he touted Brown Jackson’s humility.
It’s a quality that “allows so many Americans” to see themselves in the judge, he added.
Jackson, a 51-year-old appeals court judge with nine years of experience on the federal bench, was confirmed 53-47 by the Senate Thursday, mostly along party lines.
Biden criticized some senators’ lines of questioning during Jackson’s confirmation process, saying what she went through was “verbal abuse.” While some senators were overcome with “joy,” as Cory Booker of New Jersey said he was, others, led by Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, quizzed the federal judge about her views on issues of race and crime, amplifying election year grievances and a backlash over changing culture.
In her confirmation, Jackson made history by becoming the third Black justice and only the sixth woman in the court’s more than 200-year history. Jackson will take her seat when Justice Stephen Breyer retires this summer.
On Friday, Jackson gave her “heartfelt thanks” to the many people she said helped her get to the Supreme Court— her family, including her husband, Patrick and daughters Leila and Talia, friends, mentors and more.
“It is the greatest honor of my life to be here with you,” Jackson said in her remarks. “It is hard to find the words to express the depth of my gratitude … I have come this far by faith and I know I am truly blessed.”
Jackson would be the current court’s second Black justice — Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, is the other — and just the third in history. Jackson would replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice Breyer. Biden nominated Jackson in February.
The 51-year-old federal appeals court judge will join two other women, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, on the liberal side of the current 6-3 conservative court. With Justice Amy Coney Barrett sitting at the other end of the bench, four of the nine justices would be women for the first time in history.
While the vote was far from the overwhelming bipartisan confirmations for Breyer and other justices in decades past, it was still a significant bipartisan accomplishment for Biden in the narrow 50-50 Senate after GOP senators aggressively worked to paint Jackson as too liberal and soft on crime .
Before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Jackson said her life was shaped by her parents’ experiences with racial segregation and civil rights laws that were enacted a decade before she was born.
With her parents and family sitting behind her, she told the panel that her “path was clearer” than theirs as a Black American. Jackson attended Harvard University, served as a public defender, worked at a private law firm and was appointed to the US Sentencing Commission in addition to her nine years on the federal bench.
“I have been a judge for nearly a decade now, and I take that responsibility and my duty to be independent very seriously,” Jackson said. “I decide cases from a neutral posture. I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath.”
Once sworn in, Jackson would be the second-youngest member of the court after Barrett, 50. She would join a court on which no one is yet 75, the first time that has happened in nearly 30 years.
“This is not only a sunny day,” Biden said Friday. “This is going to let so much sun shine on so many young women. We’re gonna look back and see this as a moment of real change in American history.”