04.04.22

Statement On The Senate Judiciary Committee Vote To Advance Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's Nomination To The United States Supreme Court

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will undertake one of its most consequential duties: to consider and vote whether to advance a nominee to the United States Supreme Court.  Before us is a nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who embodies the highest ideals of our judiciary and the legal profession.  During the confirmation proceedings, she put on a master class about what it means to be an independent, fair-minded Justice.  Her grace, intellect, temperament and wit are exactly what Americans want — and deserve — on our nation’s highest court.  I will proudly and confidently vote aye to advance her historic nomination to the Senate Floor.

This is my 21st Supreme Court confirmation process.  I have voted to confirm Supreme Court nominees appointed by Republican and Democratic Presidents alike.  I have voted across party lines, even when it was not popular to do so.  And I have always approached the consideration of Supreme Court nominees in the same manner: with an open and objective mind, giving weight to the qualifications, temperament, and record of the individual who has been nominated.  That is because I have always believed — and still do — that our independent judiciary is bigger than partisan politics.  When I say Judge Jackson is one of the most objectively well-qualified Supreme Court nominees I have ever considered, it is rooted in decades of experience in evaluating these nominees.

I know that will fall on deaf ears with certain members of this Committee.  Members who unfortunately cared more about seeing their soundbites on their social media feeds than on seriously and respectfully questioning the nominee.  Members who badgered Judge Jackson, refused to let her answer questions, and even refused to respect basic rules and decorum of the Committee, and of the Senate.  That Judge Jackson maintained a calm demeanor and confidence in the face of such disrespectful behavior underscored her remarkable temperament — an attribute we need on our nation’s highest court. 

But I hope there are other Senators — those to whom I give great credit for asking serious questions and treating the nominee with respect — who will see this historic moment for what it is. A chance to unite across party lines around one of the most brilliant legal minds in our country, just like we did three times before on her previous confirmations.  A chance to elevate the first ever Black woman to the Supreme Court, widening the lens of our Supreme Court’s representation, ensuring that our democracy’s institutions become ever more inclusive and representative with each generation.  And a chance to show Americans that the independence and integrity of our judiciary is something that we need, and that we value, more than our party affiliations.

What a reaffirming signal it would send to the American people if we break free from the politics of the moment and unite behind Judge Jackson.  What a refreshing departure that would be from the tired tribalism that has infected virtually every corner of our political system.

Judge Jackson has given me every reason to be hopeful — for our Court, and for our country.  Judge Jackson, just in being nominated, has already helped move our country forward.  Millions of people across the country tuned into her hearings and saw themselves as part of our democratic process like they never had before.  That is something we should all be proud of — and something we should always strive for — in our system of self-government.

As a former chair of this Committee, and now as President Pro Tem, I continue to hope that we will be an aspirational Committee. And that the Senate can still serve as the conscience of the Nation, as we have often been before at key moments.  Let us put partisanship and pettiness aside, and vote to advance this extraordinary nominee, Judge Jackson, to the Senate Floor, and vote aye in ultimately confirming her to the United States Supreme Court.  There is no question we are in the midst of an historic moment, and the history books will be taking notes.  The only question is whether we will rise to meet this moment.    

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