President Joe Biden on Friday nominated federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court, making her the first black woman selected to serve on a court that once declared her race unworthy of citizenship and endorsed segregation.
Introducing Ms Jackson on Friday, Mr Biden said he has admired traits of “pragmatism, historical perspective [and] character” of justices nominated by both Republican and Democratic presidents.
“And today, I'm pleased to introduce to the American people, a candidate who continues in this great tradition,” Mr Biden said.
In accepting the nomination, Ms Jackson said her life “has been blessed beyond measure".
“I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the constitution and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded will inspire future generations of Americans.”
In Ms Jackson, Mr Biden delivers on a campaign promise to make the historic appointment and to further diversify a court that was made up entirely of white men for almost two centuries.
In the top court's 233-year history, 113 justices have served on the bench. All but seven of them have been white men.
“For too long, our government, our courts, haven't looked like America,” Mr Biden said.
“I believe it's time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications, and that we inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.”
To date, there have only been two black justices and five women justices on the US Supreme Court.
Ms Jackson is expected to join the liberal wing of the court, which is currently dominated by conservatives in a six-to-three split.
The 51-year-old judge will replace Stephen Breyer, the 81-year-old justice who also votes with the court’s liberal bloc. As such, her appointment will not fundamentally alter the make-up of the court.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the US and regularly rules on cases that have enormous social and political consequences for the country.
Within the next few months, the court is expected to issue rulings on abortion, gun control and religion.
Ms Jackson would also be the high court’s first former public defender, though she also possesses the elite legal background of other justices.
She currently serves as a judge on a federal district court in Washington — a post that the Senate confirmed her to in 2012, with three Republicans joining Democrats in a 53-44 vote.
The three Republicans who voted her into that position are still in office: Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.
The Senate will need to confirm her again to the Supreme Court and Democrats will have very little margin for defections as they narrowly control the legislative body in a 50-50 split.
Ms Jackson would be the current court’s second black justice — Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, is the other — and the third in history.
AP contributed to this report