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Kentaji becomes first black female US Supreme Court justice




THE United States Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday 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.

Three Republicans – Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – crossed the aisle to seal her appointment by a vote of 53 to 47 overseen by Vice-President Kamala Harris, the first black woman to hold the office.

The confirmation represents a significant victory for Democrats, which 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. Democrats broke out into loud applause and cheers when the vote was gaveled.

Jackson, 51, will replace Stephen Breyer, a fellow liberal judge for whom she once clerked, upon his retirement in June and the lifetime appointment will likely see her on the bench for decades.

Jackson has said she has a “methodology” to deciding cases but not an overarching philosophy. And she agreed with Republican senators about the importance of abiding by the text of the Constitution, as it was intended by the founders.

During her confirmation, Democrats touted her experience working as a public defender. She will be the first Supreme Court justice since Thurgood Marshall – the first black Supreme Court justice – to have career experience representing criminal defendants.

The jurist, a Washington DC native, currently sits on the influential US court of Appeals for the DC circuit. She has two degrees from Harvard University and once served as editor of the Harvard Law Review. She worked as a public defender in Washington before joining a private practice prior to her judicial appointments.

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Some Republicans took issue with clients Jackson took on as a public defence lawyer – namely terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, with some accusing her of being soft on crime.

Others, however, applauded the diversity of experience her legal career would bring to the bench over the course of what was at times highly fractious and almost entirely polarised six week confirmation process.

Murkowski, one of three Republicans to vote in favour of Justice Jackson said this decision rested, in part, as a “rejection of the corrosive politicisation” that has come to shape the confirmation process.

The new justice “will bring to the Supreme Court a range of experience from the courtroom that few can match given her background in litigation,” Murkowski added.

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