Supreme Court Confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson and What’s Next | CBC News

US federal judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice on Thursday, making history as the first black woman to reach the high court.

Jackson was confirmed by a 53-47 vote in the Senate, with three Republicans joining all Democratic senators in voting for her nomination.

Here’s a closer look at what his nomination means.

What does Jackson bring to the bench?

Jackson once clerked for Judge Stephen Breyer, whom he will eventually replace, after graduating from Harvard Law School. She worked as a public defender and was part of the agency that helps develop federal sentencing policy, before being confirmed by the Senate as a federal district court judge in 2013, and last year as a federal appeals court judge. .

During the Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Democrats used of a graph that shows that Jackson compares favorably, in terms of experience, with recent judges.

Members of the House Congressional Black Caucus speak after the successful confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson Thursday on Capitol Hill. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

“She is one of the most qualified candidates for the Supreme Court that I have considered in my 48 years here,” Sen. Pat Leahy, the longest-serving Democratic senator, said from the House floor Thursday.

While conservatives in the Senate such as Mitch McConnell have portrayed her as a “radical left” candidate, retired federal judge Thomas Griffith, an appointee of George W. Bush, said in his testimony last month that Jackson was “a jurist independent judge based on the facts and the law, and not as partisan”.

How were the hearings?

Gone are the days when Antonin Scalia could be confirmed by a 98-0 count (1986), or even 13 years ago, when Judge Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed by a comfortable 68-31 margin.

The Supreme Court has immense influence over the contours of US public policy, possibly more so now that Congress is frequently polarized and unable to reach bipartisan agreement on many important issues (for example, comprehensive immigration reform). . Senators increasingly fear the electoral consequences of going “against” their party on a judicial candidate.

CLOCK | Some highlights from the confirmation hearings:

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson questioned by senators

Ketanji Brown Jackson, US President Joe Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court, faced her first day of questioning by senators. Jackson, who if confirmed would become the first black woman to join the court, responded to her questions about her court and sentencing history. 2:05

While not as explosive as the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas (1991) and Brett Kavanaugh (2018), both accused of sexual misconduct, Jackson’s hearings were quite contentious.

Republicans sought to portray Jackson as soft on crime, forensically examining the sentences he handed down in cases involving defendants who possessed child pornography. Democratic Sen. Cory Booker called the line of attack “over the top,” and his party accused Republicans of picking cases and not focusing on an overall sentencing record in line with the sentences of even some federal judges nominated for Republicans. Additionally, Jackson’s nomination was supported by the National Fraternal Order of Police.

What does your confirmation represent?

Jackson is only the third black female judge and the sixth female judge overall. The overwhelming majority of the 116 judges in US history have been white men of European origin and largely Protestant in terms of religious affiliation.

A recent Reuters report highlighted incremental progress in recent years regarding the percentage of US law school graduates who are not white, but black students are underrepresented in law school freshman classes. right compared to the African-American share of the US population.

A supporter of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson holds a sign as he takes part in a rally near the US Capitol on March 22. (Michael A McCoy/Reuters)

“I’m sure there will be more people who didn’t see themselves included in the law who will look to Associate Justice Jackson and be inspired to follow his dream of becoming a law student,” Rutgers dean of law Kimberly Mutcherson told Reuters.

The influence of this historic confirmation could transcend borders and “set an amazing example for many women and many young girls here in Canada,” said Gemma Grey-Hall, a provincial candidate in the Ontario elections, recently told CBC News.

Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of Canada, said in 2020 that there was “a growing awareness of the need for our courts, including our supreme court, to reflect the diversity of Canadians. I would certainly welcome the insights and perspectives this could bring.”

the historic appointment of Mahmoud Jamalwho is Indo-Canadian, soon followed, and another spot on Canada’s top court will be filled this year, due to the retirement of Judge Michael Moldaver.

What happens after confirmation?

Jackson likely won’t be sworn in until the summer, as Breyer will finish the current term that ends in June. He will have to decide very soon if he will remain in his current federal position until then.

There is no term limit for Supreme Court positions; Justice William O. Douglas served a record 36+ years (until 1975).

Jackson will not affect the balance of the court, as six justices were nominated by Republican presidents and three by Democrats.

Justices of the US Supreme Court are seen in a group photo on April 23, 2021. Justice Stephen Breyer, second from the right in the front row, is in his final weeks on the high court. (Erin Schaff/Reuters)

Since recent candidates approved by Republican politicians have been selected and vetted by the conservative federalist societyliberal legal advocates worry about a possible regression in the scope of abortion and gay rights, as well as a potential bias to favor state governments over the federal executive on policy matters.

Jackson’s first term will begin on October 3. Cases for that mandate so far include those involving the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission, voting rights, and a case that will pit religious rights versus LGBTQ, after a web designer refused to provide their professional services to a gay couple. Jackson has said that she intends to recuse herself from a case related to Harvard’s admissions process, as she sits on a college policy board there.

What about future court selections?

This was the first Supreme Court nominee for President Joe Biden. Will it be the last?

Judges only leave upon retirement or death, a situation many legal experts consider undesirable, some of whom have proposed having a floating number of judges to remove any partisan pressure judges may receive to make way for a younger person. Clarence Thomas, nearly 74, will be the oldest judge after Breyer retires.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham this week made it explicit that the White House could have a rough ride for future nominees after November, when congressional midterm elections take place.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, seen March 23, was among the Republicans who argued that Jackson was not a moderate candidate. Graham promised that if his party regains control of the Senate after November, the process for White House appointments could become more difficult. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“If we take back the Senate, and we are in charge of this body, and there are judicial vacancies, we will talk to our colleagues on the other side. But if we were in charge, [Jackson] I wouldn’t have been before this committee,” Graham said. “I would have had someone more moderate than this.”

So far, Biden’s nominations have led to the Senate confirmation of 15 federal judges for the US courts of appeals and 43 judges for the federal district courts, a pace considered the most productive for an administration. first term since Ronald Reagan.

To Democrats, Graham’s comments smack of what they saw as Republican filibuster in 2016, when the party refused to hold hearings for President Barack Obama’s latest Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, who is now the attorney general.

McConnell, then the Senate majority leader, argued that “the American people should have a say in the direction of the Court” in the upcoming election. Republicans swept that election, with President Donald Trump ultimately choosing three conservative justices for the current 6-3 tilt.

Leave a Comment