“On this vote, the yes’s are 53, the no’s 47, and this nomination is confirmed,” Vice President Kamala Harris said from her Senate President. Then she smiled.
And with that, the country’s first female and first black vice president announced the confirmation of the first black woman on the Supreme Court. Ketanji Brown Jackson will join the Supreme Court this summer following the retirement of Judge Stephen Breyer.
Cheers erupted in the Senate chamber. Jackson and President Joe Biden hugged each other in the White House.
The response to Jackson’s confirmation was cheered from many quarters, and the word “historic” was repeated over and over. Others, including Republican lawmakers who voted overwhelmingly against her, continued to criticize her track record, calling her an activist judge.
At Howard University’s law school, students watching the vote on live television listened enthusiastically from a conference room of Houston Hall, the main academic building. The students of the historically black school began to applaud when the vote was announced by Harris, who followed Howard as a student and is also the first person of South Asian descent to become vice president.
“We have a black, black woman on the Supreme Court with locks and she’s looking for clerks,” said freshman Jasmine Marchbanks-Owens, 27, referring to the young lawyers who help Supreme Court justices for a year. with their work.
Among the celebrants were former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. “Like so many of you, I feel a sense of pride – a sense of joy – to know that this deserving, accomplished black woman will serve on the highest court in the country,” the former first lady said. wrote on Twitter.
“This is a great day for America and a proud moment in our history,” her husband wrote.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, no from the Senate. 2 Democrat, said in a statement that the “History indeed. And much too late.” New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, one of only three black senators and an effusive supporter of Jackson’s hearing, said in a video message on Twitter: “Today is a mountain of joy. Today is a day for celebration. Today I rejoice. I cry tears of joy.”
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, the city’s second black woman to become mayor, called it “a day of hope for the future of our country.”
Lawmakers weren’t the only ones cheering. Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted his congratulations, writing that Jackson’s nomination was “a long time coming.”
“I know there are millions of young girls, like my daughter, who are watching this moment,” he wrote.
Martín Sabelli, the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said Jackson also brings a diversity of experience to court. She will be the first judge since Thurgood Marshall, the legendary civil rights attorney who was the first black person on the court, with significant criminal defense work on her resume. Sabelli hopes to see even more perspective from “in the trenches” defense attorneys, reflected in the judiciary.
At Harvard, Jackson’s alma mater, law students watched the final vote. Historically, black schools were also celebrated.
“As a proud ‘girl father’, I could be delighted to have the opportunity to explain to my two young daughters what this historic moment means for the African American community. At the national level, a glass ceiling has once again been permanently broken. Representation matters,” Thomas K. Hudson, president of Jackson State University, wrote to students, faculty and staff at the historically black Mississippi school.
Only three Republicans in the evenly split Senate voted to confirm Jackson: Maine’s Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Utah’s Mitt Romney.
In a statement following the vote, Republican National Committee chairman Ronna McDaniel called Jackson “a radical, activist judge” who is “in step with the political agenda of the far-left.” She vowed that Republicans would “hold Democrats accountable in November for supporting Biden’s radical choice.”
At Howard University, the party didn’t last long. There was a need to study. Still, Benjamin Baker, 27, of Sylacauga, Alabama, called Jackson’s confirmation “monumental” and said it was for all the black women who had gone before her. “This is for them and for all the black women who will come after her,” he said.
Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Zeke Miller in Washington, Aaron Morrison in New York City, Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans, and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.