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Senate set to confirm Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson : NPR


Supreme Court nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is seen here during a meeting with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Capitol Hill April 5, 2022.

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Senate set to confirm Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson : NPR

Supreme Court nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is seen here during a meeting with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Capitol Hill April 5, 2022.

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate is expected to vote today to confirm Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. When she is sworn in this summer, Jackson will be the first black woman to serve on the nation’s high court.

All 50 Senate Democrats, including the two independents who caucus with them, are expected to vote for confirmation of Jackson. They will be joined by at least three Republicans: Sens. Mitt Romney from Utah, Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska.

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee reached an 11-11 tie along party lines on whether to advance Jackson’s nomination to a vote before the full Senate. Democrats, expecting a stalemate, immediately took a procedural step to return the nomination to a vote before the full Senate.

During her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans attacked Jackson as a partisan and relied heavily on the culture war fights rather than investigations into the candidate’s qualifications.

Several Republicans, including Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Josh Hawley of Missouri, accused the judge of being soft on child sex offenders. Fact checkers say the claims are misleading and that Jackson’s sentencing decisions were consistent with those of his peers on the federal bench.

Jackson will be the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court

Jackson’s confirmation fulfills a major campaign promise of President Biden: to appoint the first black woman to the Supreme Court.

Jackson, 51, served eight years as a federal trial court judge and last June was confirmed for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Before becoming a judge, Jackson worked as a public defender. Once confirmed, Jackson will be the first Supreme Court justice since Thurgood Marshall to represent indigent defendants.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1996, she became clerk to Justice Stephen Breyer – whom she will replace at the High Court when Breyer officially retires this summer.

Breyer, 83, was appointed to the court by then-President Bill Clinton in 1994 to replace outgoing judge Harry Blackmun.

Contrary to the contemporary view of the court as another venue for partisan political and cultural warfare, Judge Breyer became known for his decades-long effort to build consensus among judges despite philosophical and ideological differences over the Constitution.

Last year, Breyer published a book that argued that the American public should continue to trust the court as an apolitical institution that exists above the political fray of other branches.

“I’m afraid the general public is starting to think of Supreme Court justices as junior league politicians,” Breyer told NPR’s Nina Totenberg. “A lot of unfortunate things will happen because they think, why don’t we want senior university politicians? Why do we want junior university politicians? A lot of unfortunate thoughts for the institution may cross people’s minds.”

During Jackson’s time on the court, Breyer’s conception of the Supreme Court will be tested as the court’s conservative majority rules on cases involving some of the country’s most contentious social and political issues, ranging from access to abortion to the role of race in college admissions.

NPR’s Barbara Sprunt and Susan Davis contributed reporting.

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