Cheers for Jackson declaring ‘We made it, all of us’ – thereporteronline – Natural Self Esteem

By ZEKE MILLER and WILL WEISSERT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Weeping in a historic moment, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said Friday her confirmation as the first black woman on the Supreme Court shows America’s progress, declaring, “We made it — all of us.”

Jackson delivered emotional remarks on the sunny South Lawn of the White House a day after the Senate approved her nomination, saying it was a development the whole country could be proud of.

“We’ve come a long way to perfect our union,” she said. “It only took my family a generation to go from segregation to the United States Supreme Court.”

President Joe Biden, who made his own history with her nomination, stood by her at Friday’s event and hailed her confirmation as “a moment of real change in American history.” On Jackson’s other side: Vice President Kamala Harris, the first black woman to hold high office.

Jackson will take the bench later this year, taking the seat of retired Justice Stephen Breyer on a court that for nearly two centuries consisted entirely of white men who declared their race unworthy of citizenship and advocated American segregation.

“It took 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a black woman to be selected for the United States Supreme Court,” Jackson said. “But we succeeded. We made it, all of us.”

Jackson, who sometimes spoke through tears as she thanked her family and mentors for their support, vowed to follow in Breyer’s footsteps on the bench.

“I have done my best to stay in my lane and achieve an outcome consistent with my understanding of the law,” she said, “and with a commitment to govern independently, without fear or favor.”

Jackson’s remarks on the White House lawn may be the most and last the public will hear from her for some time. She won’t officially join the court until early summer, and judges won’t hear the cases again until October. In any case, judges tend not to say much about themselves in their early years at court, although some make sporadic public appearances and some have toured presenting memoirs or their books on the law.

Jackson’s appearance on the bench won’t upset the current conservative 6-3 balance. But adding to the racial story, for the first time four women are put on the court at once.

Biden nominated Jackson on the second anniversary of his promise ahead of the South Carolina presidential primary to pick a black woman for the court. The move helped revive his hitting campaign and preserved his path to the White House, and Biden said the promise of putting someone like Jackson on the field helped motivate his bid for the Oval Office.

“I could see it as a day of hope, a day of promise, a day of progress, a day when the moral arc of the universe — as Barack (Obama) used to quote over and over again — tilts a little more toward justice ‘ Biden told the boisterous crowd on the South Lawn. “I firmly believe we need a dish that looks like America.”

Aside from racial issues, a number of Republican senators aggressively questioned Jackson during the confirmation hearings, accused her of liberal activism as a Circuit Court judge and were soft on crime in some of her rulings.

Biden praised Jackson’s “incredible character and integrity” during the confirmation process, saying she endured “verbal abuse, the anger, constant interruptions, the most heinous unsubstantiated claims and allegations.” He commended the three Republican senators who have joined Democrats in supporting them for the court: Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

Jackson will be the High Court’s first former public defender – with the elite legal background of other judges. She has degrees from Harvard and Harvard Law School and has worked as a trainee teacher, including for Breyer himself.

The crowd on the White House lawn included Jackson’s family, members of Biden’s cabinet, some of the Democratic senators supporting her nomination, and Democratic officials and allies. The White House said all current and former Supreme Court justices were invited, but none attended.

The event came amid a COVID-19 outbreak among Washington’s political class, members of the Biden administration and lawmakers, including Collins and Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, who tested positive for the virus just hours after voting for Brown’s confirmation , sidelined. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was on the invite list, tested positive for the virus on Thursday.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday addressed concerns that the White House event could be a “super spreader” for the virus, like President Donald Trump’s Rose Garden ceremony, which announced the appointment of current Justice Amy Coney Barrett became. Psaki emphasized that the risks from the virus are now much lower due to vaccinations and treatments.

“At that time vaccines were not available, people were not vaccinated, that certainly puts us in a different situation,” Psaki said.

While not all attendees were tested for the virus, Psaki said those close to Biden would. Harris made comments despite being identified Wednesday as a close contact of an employee who tested positive. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines require close contacts to wear masks around other people. Harris didn’t wear one during the South Lawn event and she ended up hugging Jackson.

“She had an emotional moment, which is understandable,” Psaki said.

On Thursday, Jackson had joined Biden at the White House to watch the Senate vote on TV, and the two clapped hands in the Roosevelt Room as their confirmation became a reality.

During his 50 years in Washington, Biden has played an instrumental role in shaping the court, both inside and outside the Senate. But this was his first opportunity to make his own choices.

Biden may not get another chance. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an interview Thursday with Axios, refused to commit to holding High Court confirmation hearings on a prospective Biden nominee if the GOP regains control of the Senate in 2023.

While Jackson awaits Breyer’s official resignation, a White House official said she will remain on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals but will continue to retire from cases.

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AP writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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