04.07.22

Statement On The Confirmation Of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson To Be A Justice Of The United States Supreme Court

. . . . Senate Floor

Today is an historic one.  Today, each member of the Senate will have the opportunity to cast a vote on the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  Throughout our Nation’s history, only 115 people have served on the Supreme Court.  Until now, only five of them were women.  Only two of them have been Black.  And none of them has been a Black woman.

History indeed.  And long overdue.

But I will not cast my vote in support of Judge Jackson’s confirmation because she is a woman, or because she is Black.  I will cast that vote because she is eminently qualified to serve in the position to which she has been nominated.  Her nomination should not just be welcomed — it should be celebrated.  It is a major step forward for our democracy, further widening the lens to help make our Nation more inclusive and more representative with each passing generation.   She is one of the most qualified nominees to the Supreme Court that I have ever considered. 

A graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School.  A judicial clerk at the district, circuit and Supreme Court levels.  A Federal appellate judge, a Federal district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an attorney in private practice.  And she will be the first ever Justice who has served as a public defender, bringing that much needed perspective to the Court.  No one — no one — can argue that Judge Jackson is not objectively qualified to be confirmed.

The manufactured accusations that were thrown at her by some on our Committee during our hearings not only fell flat, but have been refuted and debunked by serious voices across the political spectrum.  They hold no water.  They serve only to showcase the vitriol, and contempt, with which some members of this body approach their sacred constitutional role of “advice and consent.”  I said it during the hearings, and I will say it again: it is distressing.  It is disheartening.  And as the Dean of the Senate, it is saddening.

And yet, I find hope in the fact that Judge Jackson’s confirmation to our highest court will have the bipartisan support it deserves — that it commands.  I commend the Republican Senators who have lauded her qualifications and staked their support of her nomination. Judge Jackson has earned the President’s nomination.  And she has earned confirmation from the Senate.  

Each and every day, millions of American families are living their lives.  And how they live those lives — from the salaries they make to the education their children receive and scores of issues in between — is directly impacted by the decisions made at the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court — and all of our courts — cannot be ivory towers, accessible only to, and bending to the will of, a select few in our society.  They must be accountable to all Americans.  And to do so, they must reflect the diversity of our nation — the diversity that is at the foundation of our democracy.  Diversity of gender, race, creed, education, and history. Diversity of thought and life experiences.  Judge Jackson brings that, and more, to the bench.

I am the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and a former Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  I voted for the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court.  I voted for the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court.  I have voted on thousands of judicial nominations – nominees of both Republican and Democratic Presidents.  I have voted for nominees to the Supreme Court who were put forward by Republican Presidents.

I have long lamented the increasing political gamesmanship that has infected our current confirmation process.  I have long warned about the dire consequences — for our courts, for our democracy — of converting our confirmation process into a zero sum game where one party wins and one party loses.  

But to change that gamesmanship requires that we have some adults in the room.  That we all come here, to the floor of the United States Senate, not to score a headline or a trending tweet, but to simply do our jobs.  Who will do that today?

I have taken a clear look at Judge Jackson’s record.  I heard her testimony two weeks ago.  I met with her.  I read opinions that she has written. I saw her intellect, humility, and temperament on full display.  She is the Justice we need now.  For Americans today, for the generations to come, for all of us — I will cast my vote to confirm Judge Jackson. 

I hope the Senate can rise to this moment, and be the deliberative body the Founders envisioned when they conceived of this great experiment.  Our independent judiciary and our democracy demand it of us.  And history will remember the votes cast here today. 

I will, proudly vote aye.

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