Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes first Black woman confirmed to Supreme Court

By Maureen Chowdhury, Ji Min Lee, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 2:09 PM ET, Fri April 8, 2022
19 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
7:11 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

Jackson won't be sworn in until Justice Stephen Breyer retires

From CNN's Ariane de Vogue

Justice Stephen Breyer attends an event at the Library of Congress on February 17, in Washington, DC.
Justice Stephen Breyer attends an event at the Library of Congress on February 17, in Washington, DC. (Evan Vucci/Pool/Getty Images)

The Senate voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman Supreme Court justice on Thursday.

But Jackson won't be on the bench quite yet as she will not be sworn in until after Justice Stephen Breyer retires.

In his letter to President Biden in January, Breyer said his retirement will be effective at the end of the current Supreme Court term, assuming that his successor is confirmed. The term is expected to end sometime late June or early July. 

2:29 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

Biden and Jackson watched the Senate vote from the White House

President Joe Biden congratulates Ketanji Brown Jackson as the Senate confirms her to be the first Black woman to be a justice on the Supreme Court in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on April 7 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden congratulates Ketanji Brown Jackson as the Senate confirms her to be the first Black woman to be a justice on the Supreme Court in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on April 7 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Biden and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson watched the Senate vote on her confirmation to the Supreme Court from the Roosevelt Room in the White House, marking a historic moment as she became the first Black woman confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Jackson will not be sworn in immediately. She will be sworn in after Justice Stephen Breyer retires sometime in the summer.

2:37 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

Biden, Harris and Judge Jackson will deliver remarks on Friday

From CNN's Sam Fossum

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks at the White House, alongside President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, on February 25.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks at the White House, alongside President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, on February 25. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will deliver remarks at 12:15 p.m. ET on Friday on the South Lawn, according to updated guidance from the White House. 

The Senate just confirmed Jackson in a historic vote that paves the way for her to become the first Black woman to serve on the highest court in the nation.

The tally was 53 to 47 with Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joining with Democrats to vote in favor of Jackson.

2:34 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

These are the 3 GOP senators who voted for Jackson

From CNN's Sam Woodward

Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney.
Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney. (Getty Images)

A unified Senate Democratic caucus and three Republican senators voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court.

Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, broke party lines and voted in favor of Jackson.

Collins announced her support of Jackson in a statement late last month, saying she "possesses the experience, qualifications, and integrity to serve" on the bench.

Romney tweeted on Monday his intention to confirm Jackson: "While I do not expect to agree with every decision she may make on the Court, I believe that she more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity."

Murkowski said in a statement on Monday that her support "rests on [her] rejection of the corrosive politicization of the review process for Supreme Court nominees."

Last year, three Republican senators, including both Collins and Murkowski, voted to confirm Jackson to fill an appellate court seat. The third vote came from Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina—a highly critical opponent of Jackson's confirmation despite being a supporter prior to her hearings.

Following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer at the end of the Supreme Court term, Jackson will make history as the first Black woman to be sworn in on the court in its 233-year history.

6:51 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

JUST IN: Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed by Senate as first Black woman on Supreme Court

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett

Ketanji Brown Jackson listens during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 21 in Washington, DC.
Ketanji Brown Jackson listens during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 21 in Washington, DC. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

The Senate just confirmed President Biden's Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson in a historic vote that paves the way for her to become the first Black woman to serve on the highest court in the nation.

The final confirmation vote required only a simple majority.

The tally was 53 to 47 with Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joining with Democrats to vote in favor of Jackson.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who is the first Black woman to serve as vice president, presided over the Senate during the historic vote in her capacity as president of the Senate.

After the gavel struck down, Democratic senators could be seen clapping and giving a standing ovation.

Jackson’s confirmation won’t change the ideological balance of the court. 

But the confirmation marks a significant historic milestone for the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. It also represents a victory for Democrats, that they can tout as bipartisan, and a way for the President to deliver on a campaign promise at a time when the US faces a number of challenges at home and abroad, including soaring inflation and the crisis in Ukraine. 

6:52 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

GOP Sen. Rand Paul is the only senator who hasn't voted

From CNN's Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett 

Sen. Rand Paul attends the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee markup on March 15.
Sen. Rand Paul attends the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee markup on March 15. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images)

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has 53 votes for her confirmation, but the Senate chamber is still waiting for GOP Sen. Rand Paul to arrive before gaveling.

Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, is the only senator who has not voted.

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma voted from the GOP cloakroom because they weren't wearing ties as is required by Senate rules on the floor.

Graham was in a quarter zip and a blazer. Graham turned his thumb down and receded back into the cloakroom.

3:15 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

Schumer: Today is "a joyous day and an inspiring day"

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks on the Senate floor on Thursday, April 7.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks on the Senate floor on Thursday, April 7. (Senate TV)

Ahead of the final confirmation vote for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer praised the historic nature of the vote and the impact it will have on the country.

"This is a wonderful day, a joyous day and an inspiring day, for the Senate, for the Supreme Court and for the United States of America," Schumer said ahead of the vote.

"Today we are here to vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the 116th justice of the United States Supreme Court," Schumer said.

"Now a few days ago, I spoke with a group of eighth graders from Chautauqua, New York. Many of them were students of color. It was amazing when I mentioned that this week we were confirming the judge. You could see them light up. The unmistakable look in their eyes, one day each young lady thought to herself, 'I can do it too,'" he said.

"This is a great moment for Judge Jackson, but it is an even greater moment for America as we rise to a more perfect union," he said later on in his speech.

Watch Schumer's remarks:

1:59 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

NOW: Final vote underway to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav

A view of the Senate floor during the final vote to confirm nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.
A view of the Senate floor during the final vote to confirm nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. (Senate TV)

The Senate is now holding the final vote to confirm President Biden's nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Vice President Kamala Harris is presiding over the Senate during the vote.

Jackson is on track to be confirmed and is set to make history in the process as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Her confirmation will not change the ideological balance of the court, but will represent a major victory for Democrats and a way for the President to deliver on a significant campaign promise.

All 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus are unified behind the nomination and three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have announced support as well.

Read more about Jackson's confirmation here.

2:00 p.m. ET, April 7, 2022

Durbin: "Judge Jackson's confirmation will be a glass-shattering achievement for America"

Sen. Dick Durbin speaks on the Senate floor on April 7.
Sen. Dick Durbin speaks on the Senate floor on April 7. (Senate TV)

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin praised Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's qualification and the historic nature of her Supreme Court nomination during remarks on the Senate floor ahead of the final vote.

"Judge Jackson's confirmation will be a glass-shattering achievement for America," Durbin said.

Durbin went on to discuss America's history of the enslavement of Black people and the limited rights of women.

"Consider this moment in history. When the Supreme Court first met in this building February of 1801, there were one million slaves in this nation, a nation of five million people. This very building was built with the labor of enslaved people and at the time the court met, neither Black Americans nor white women had the constitutional guarantee right to vote. Women had no place in that first Supreme Court chamber and Black women would only enter to clean it in the dark of the night. We know what followed. America's battle to end slavery saw a bloody civil war and decades of efforts to break down racial barriers and the efforts continue to this today," he said.

Durbin continued, "And our struggle to enfranchise and empower women did not end with the 19th Amendment over 102 years ago — it continues to this day as well, as we strive to give our daughters the same opportunities we give our sons."

He went on to say, "This confirmation of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court honors the history that has come before it, it honors the struggles of the past, of the men and women who waged them. And this confirmation draws America one step closer, one step to healing out nation. One step closer to a more perfect union."