Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

The US Senate is poised to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson for a seat on the Supreme Court, making her the first black female justice on America’s highest court in a big win for president, Joe Biden who championed her nomination.

A final vote in the upper chamber of Congress to seal Jackson’s confirmation is due on Thursday afternoon, after Democratic leaders in the Senate concluded she had sufficient support to receive the legislative green light.

Democratic senators are all expected to vote to confirm Jackson, 51, alongside three Republican senators, including Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, giving her some bipartisan support for the lifetime appointment to the court.

Jackson, currently a judge on the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia, will be replacing the retiring liberal justice Stephen Breyer, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by former president Bill Clinton, so her confirmation to the nine-member body will not alter its ideological make-up. At the moment, the Supreme Court is heavily slanted towards conservative justices, who hold six seats compared to just three for liberals appointed by Clinton and Barack Obama.

Still, Jackson’s ascent to the Supreme Court is historic, not just because she is the first black woman to reach the highest level of the US judiciary, but also because she would be the first justice who had served as a public defender.

“It will be a joyous day: joyous for the Senate, joyous for the Supreme Court, joyous for America. While we still have a long way to go, America tomorrow will take a giant step towards becoming a more perfect nation, ”Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said late on Wednesday as he announced the timing of the vote.

Jackson’s confirmation will first need to clear a procedural vote at 11am local time in Washington – with the final vote expected around 1.45pm.

Jackson has been considered the frontrunner for the position ever since Biden took office, after he made a campaign pledge to place the first black woman on the Supreme Court. Some Biden allies such as Jim Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat, had pushed for alternative candidates, but the US president ultimately sided with Jackson as a highly qualified and easily confirmable nominee. Biden formally announced Jackson’s nomination on February 25, the day after Russia invaded Ukraine, in a sign of the importance of the nomination to his presidency and congressional Democrats.

The White House and Democrats will hope that Jackson’s successful move to the Supreme Court will help boost enthusiasm within the party’s base ahead of the midterm elections, where Republicans have the upper hand given Biden’s low approval ratings and vote unease about high inflation.

Progressive Democrats have also been disappointed that Biden and Congress were unable to agree on legislation to protect voting rights and much of his economic agenda, including more funding for education, child care, and climate change, paid for with higher taxes on wealthy and large companies .

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