Jackson’s confirmation moves Biden political story full circle

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a moment of 46 days—and more than 46 years—in the making.

President Joe Biden will celebrate the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman to reach the Supreme Court on Friday, marking the pinnacle of her legal career and bringing her political story to the fore.

As longtime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden has had some of the most controversial confirmation battles in court history, as well as hearings from Justice Stephen Breyer, whose retirement this summer is clearing the way for Jackson to join. . bench.

“This is a tremendously historic day for the White House and the nation, and it is the fulfillment of the promise the President made to the nation,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. He said Biden’s time on the judiciary committee was “defining for him and gave him a historically exceptional preparation to get justice in court”.

In nominating Jackson, Biden fulfilled a campaign promise to select the first black woman to serve on a court composed entirely of white men for nearly two centuries, giving her race citizenship. Disqualified and supported American secession.

They also chose a lawyer who would be the High Court’s first former public defender and who also had the elite legal background of other judges, including degrees from Harvard and Harvard Law School, and top clerkships, including Breuer himself.

Jackson’s arrival on the bench won’t upset the current 6-3 ideological balance in favor of conservatives, but Biden still considers the pick historic. He nominated her on the second anniversary of his pledge before the South Carolina presidential primary to select a black woman for the court. The move helped revive his drifting campaign and preserved his route to the White House.

“We’ve taken another step toward showing our Supreme Court the diversity of America,” Biden said in a tweet on Thursday after posing for a selfie with the justice-in-waiting. “She would be an incredible justice, and I was honored to share this moment with her.”

Jackson was joined by Biden to watch the Senate vote on TV at the White House, with the two shaking hands in the Roosevelt Room as his confirmation became reality.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klein said, “History doesn’t happen by accident – it’s made.” He noted MSNBC’s vote on Brown’s nomination to the Senate, presided over by Kamala Harris, the first black vice president who was also elected by Biden.

During his 50 years in Washington, Biden has been instrumental in shaping the court, both inside and outside the Senate. But this was his first time to make his own choice.

Biden may not get a chance again. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an interview with Axios on Thursday, refused to commit to a confirmation hearing for a future Biden nominee in the High Court if the GOP takes back control of the Senate in 2023. .

Biden attended confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981 and Antonin Scalia in 1986, both of whom were nominated by President Ronald Reagan. He also participated in the hearing in 1986 for the elevation of Justice William Rehnquist to the position of Chief Justice of the United States.

As committee chairman, he presided over hearings for the doomed nominee Robert Bork, then Anthony M. Kennedy, David Souter, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Breuer.

He was on the committee in 2005, but was no longer chairman, when Chief Justice John Roberts was confirmed in court, and in 2006 when Samuel Alito became justice.

As vice president, Biden helped counsel President Barack Obama on three of his Supreme Court picks: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who were confirmed, and now-Attorney General Merrick Garland, whose nominations had to be taken ahead of the 2016 presidential election. was blocked by the GOP.

Jackson would not take office immediately. Breyer is set to step down after the court ends his current term, which is usually in late June or early July. Only then will Jackson take the oath to become an Associate Justice. A White House official said Jackson would remain in his role on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but would continue to recuse himself from the cases.

Friday’s celebratory ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House comes amid a COVID-19 outbreak among Washington’s political class that sidelined members of Biden’s administration and lawmakers, including Maine Sen. The latter tested positive for the virus. Brown’s confirmation.

Psaki addressed concerns Thursday that the White House event could be a “super-spreader” for the virus, just as President Donald Trump’s Rose Garden ceremony announced the nomination of now-Justice Amy Connie Barrett. Saki stressed that the risks from the virus are now very low due to vaccination and treatment.

“At the time, vaccines weren’t available, people weren’t vaccinated, it definitely puts us in a different place,” Saki said.

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AP writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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