President Biden on Friday will herald the historic confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is about to become the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, during a ceremony at the White House.
Biden, who watched with Jackson in the Roosevelt Room on Thursday as the Senate voted 53-47 to confirm her, will no doubt remark on the history she has made. And he is sure to cast her appointment to the high court as the fulfillment of a promise he made during the 2020 campaign to tap a Black woman to become a justice.
Jackson, 54, will speak during the ceremony on the South Lawn, making her first public comments since her contentious confirmation hearings, where she sat stoically through attacks by Republican lawmakers. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is a trailblazer in her own position and presided over the final Senate vote Thursday, is also slated to deliver remarks.
For Biden, Brown’s lifetime appointment is likely to amount to one of the more consequential achievements of his presidency — even though, in the near term, it will not affect the ideological split on the Supreme Court, which is dominated by its six conservative justices.
She’ll replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 83, one of the court’s three liberals, once the current term ends in June.
Politically, Brown’s confirmation amounts to a major win during a difficult stretch for Biden. His approval rating is stuck in the low 40s despite record low unemployment and his unifying of NATO allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Jackson’s confirmation, which garnered support from Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, marked a rare, high-profile, bipartisan achievement for Biden and Democrats in an era of bitter political battles.
With midterm elections looming, voting rights and police reform legislation given up for dead and the president’s domestic agenda still in limbo, this accomplishment may also be Biden’s best shot at convincing Black voters who helped him win his party’s nomination and the presidency that he has delivered for them.