President Joe Biden blasted Republican attacks on Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson at her hearings during a celebration of her ascension to the Supreme Court on Friday.
Mr Biden, who as a senator was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees Supreme Court confirmations, said he expected the woman he would nominate to replace Justice Stephen Breyer would face a tough confirmation process, but he was appalled at the way she was treated at her hearings.
“It was verbal abuse,” Mr. Biden said during a speech on the South Lawn of the White House a day after the Senate voted to confirm her 53-47. “The anger, the constant interruptions, the most heinous, baseless claims and accusations . Despite it all, Judge Jackson showed the incredible character and integrity that she possesses.”
He also commended Senators Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine for their confirmation votes.
“I hope I don’t get them in trouble, but I want to thank three Republicans who voted for Justice Jackson,” he said. “Senator Collins, a woman of integrity. Senator Murkowski, who is the same in Alaska, is running for re-election. And Mitt Romney, whose father stood up just like him. His father stood up and made those civil rights decisions.”
Speaking to an audience filled with a who’s who of black officials Washington – including much of the black congressional committee – and civil rights activists including Rev Al Sharpton and Rev Jesse Jackson, Mr Biden said the day was a fulfilling one his campaign promise to nominate a Black woman for the Supreme Court.
“When I committed to nominating a black woman for the Supreme Court, I could see that day,” he told the crowd, many of whom arrived more than an hour before the event was scheduled to begin and made up the atmosphere at the White House South Lawn is more of a rock festival or a happy family reunion than the swearing-in ceremony of a judge at the nation’s highest court.
Some guests greeted each other with hugs as if they hadn’t seen each other in years – a strong possibility given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rev Sharpton, wearing a slim pinstripe suit and smiling broadly, sat next to a smiling Rev Jackson in the front row. Although Rev. Jackson, who has Parkinson’s disease, was in a wheelchair, he occasionally stood up with the help of an attendant to take photos with other attendees.
The man who had led Judge Jackson’s confirmation through an evenly divided Senate, former Senator Doug Jones, strode the lawn like a conquering hero, pausing occasionally to hear from former colleagues, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. to receive congratulatory hugs.
Applause rang out across the South Lawn as Richter — soon to be Richter — Jackson’s parents, Ellery and Johnny Brown, emerged from the West Wing, flanked by their two daughters, Talia and Leila.
Minutes later, the US Supreme Court’s next Associate Justice appeared, accompanied by Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Ms. Harris, the first black woman to serve in her role, noted the historic nature of the endorsement and said the Harvard-trained lawyer will “inspire generations of leaders” who she predicted will “watch your endorsement hearings and… Reading your decisions” would be the future.
The vice president recalled penning a note to her goddaughter while presiding over the judge’s confirmation vote on the Senate podium on Thursday afternoon.
“I told her I had such a deep sense of pride and joy and what this moment means for our nation and for its future,” she said. “And I’ll tell you — her braids are just a little longer than yours — but when I texted her, I told her what I knew this would mean for her life and what potential she has.”
The celebration came a day after the Senate voted 53-47 to make Ms Jackson the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
Mr. Biden also noted that he has nominated more black women for the Federal Bank than all of his predecessors combined and has appointed numerous women of color to his cabinet.
“It’s a powerful thing when people can see themselves in others – I bet any of you can go back and think of a time in your life when there was a teacher and a family member, a neighbor, someone who was you Made believe that you can be whatever you want. It’s a powerful, powerful, powerful thought,” he said, adding that the idea of representation is why he is “so firmly convinced” that the Supreme Court “should look like America.”
“People of every generation, race and background have felt this moment and they are feeling it now. They feel a sense of pride and hope and belonging and believing and knowing that America is inclusive, all of us,” he said. “This is the American experiment”.
A short time later, Justice Jackson spoke for herself and thanked Mr. Biden for “honouring” her with the “extraordinary challenge” of serving on the nation’s highest court.
She vowed to “rule independently, without fear or favor” once she takes the bench, but said her job speaking to the crowd that day was to “give heartfelt thanks” to those attributed to her for helping her, including her parents, brother, parents-in-law, husband and daughters.
“It took 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a black woman to be selected for the United States Supreme Court — but we made it, we made it, all of us, all of us. And our kids tell me that now more than ever, they see that anything is possible here in America.”
Regarding her status as a “role model,” Justice Jackson said she saw it as both a responsibility and an opportunity.
“I feel up to the task mainly because I know I’m not alone. I stand on the shoulders of my own role models, generations of Americans who never had an opportunity remotely like this, but who got up and went to work every day, believing in the promise of America and showing others through their determination, and yes, their perseverance that good things can be done in this great country,” she said.