Senate set to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson for upcoming Supreme Court vacancy

After another contentious confirmation process, she’s expected to become the first Black woman and first former public defender on the high court

By Michael Macagnone

The Senate is expected to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, the end of a historic nomination process streaked with acrimony even for a justice who will not alter the court’s current conservative tilt.

Jackson, who appears set to receive bipartisan support, will also be the first former public defender to sit on the court. It’s a professional background that Democrats said would add a much needed perspective on the high court but Republicans mined to accuse Jackson of being soft on crime.

Jackson will take the seat of Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who plans to retire at the end of the term in June. By then, the 6-3 conservative majority is expected to deliver major rulings on abortion and gun rights that could fuel debate about the high court’s legitimacy. On the horizon are cases about election laws and congressional redistricting after the 2020 census.

Senate Democrats remained focused on Jackson’s education and track record as a federal judge and repeatedly drove home how she stands at the precipice of history: a first on the Supreme Court like Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black man, or Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman.

“She will be the first, and I have no doubt in my mind she will pave the way for others in the future,” Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “It’s a key feature of a healthy and vibrant democracy, when Americans of all walks of life come before the court, they should have confidence that those who don the robes have the ability to walk in their own shoes, to see and understand their side of the story.”

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