On April 7, the United States Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court in a bipartisan 53-47 vote. Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court, upon Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement.
Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff, the president of the Latino Law Student Association at USC, said she felt relieved when Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
“It’s [Jackson’s confirmation] also really inspiring to young women of color who maybe they’re the first in their family to attend college, or maybe they’re the first in their family to attend law school and have dreams of becoming a judge or working with the law and having people like her that look like a lot of young girls in the country it serves as an inspiration,” Dominguez-Heithoff said.
All 50 Democratic Senators voted to confirm Justice Jackson, along with Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah.
Romney said in a statement on April 4 that he may not agree with every decision Jackson will make on the court, but that her record, testimony and prior experience allowed him to conclude that she is a “well-qualified jurist and a person of honor.”
The majority of the Senate Republican Caucus did not share Romney’s faith in the judge, and Democrats were furious by the tone and content of GOP questions to Jackson. U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) all questioned whether Jackson had given sentences that were too light to convicted child pornographers.
“As an Asian American and as someone with aspirations in law, it’s definitely inspiring to see a woman of color be appointed to the highest court and to see representation on a higher level,” said Heather Hong, a law, history, and culture freshman in Phi Alpha Delta, USC’s pre-law fraternity. “But I’d have to say it was disappointing and frustrating seeing the elementary level questions asked to her by conservative senators throughout her confirmation hearings.”
Prior to becoming a Supreme Court Justice, Jackson, a Harvard University alumna, served as a public defender, district court judge, circuit court judge and the vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission. Earlier in her career, she clerked at the Supreme Court for her predecessor Justice Breyer.
“Today is also a joyous celebration in another way: in the 233 year history of the Supreme Court, never – never – has a Black Woman held the title of ‘Justice.’ Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first, and I believe the first of more to come,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor on April 7.
Jackson’s nomination also greatly changes the demographics of the court. For the first time in history, white men will not hold the majority in the Supreme Court.
“I think even if you don’t agree with her judicial rulings, it is really exciting to see someone and to see a type of person who has historically never been allowed in those types of positions of power, who is now able to make really significant decisions for our country,” said Dominguez-Heithoff.
The court, nonetheless, still holds a 6-3 conservative majority. Justice Jackson joins liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.