Ketanji Brown Jackson celebrates Supreme Court confirmation: 'We've made it'

President Biden calls event 'moment of real change' amid growing security concerns over Covid-19

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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson declared “We've made it” after she was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday to become the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Ms Jackson, whose family members endured the Jim Crow era, at times wiped tears from her eyes as she recalled the civil rights leaders who came before her.

“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. But we've made it. We've made it, all of us,” she said at an event on the White House South Lawn.

President Joe Biden called the occasion “a moment of real change in America".

Vice President Kamala Harris added: “The young leaders of our nation … will see for the first time for women sitting on that court at one time.”

Once seated, Ms Jackson will be one of two black justices and one of four women serving on the court.

Ms Jackson's ascension will not change the ideological balance of the Supreme Court but it is a milestone achievement for Mr Biden, who pledged during his 2020 campaign to nominate a black woman.

“I could see this day. I literally could see this time because I thought about it for a long, long time,” Mr Biden said.

It was also a monumental victory for Democratic members of Congress who have struggled to pass items on Mr Biden's agenda, including a social spending bill and agreeing on Covid-19 funding legislation that does not include global aid.

The outdoor venue was selected in part because of Covid-19 precautions, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday.

Several high-profile members of Congress and officials in Washington have tested positive for coronavirus, leading to questions about stricter security measures around the president.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive for the virus on Thursday morning after attending indoor events with Mr Biden earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Ms Pelosi exchanged a hug and a peck on the cheek with Mr Biden during an event celebrating the Affordable Care Act, which former president Barack Obama attended. A day later, she stood near Mr Biden while he signed a postal service bill into law.

Susan Collins, one of three Republican senators who backed Ms Jackson's confirmation, announced she had contracted Covid-19 after Thursday's vote.

Ms Harris, who presided over the vote, was considered a close contact of a member of her staff who had tested positive on Wednesday.

Mr Biden tested negative on Friday morning, the White House said.

Dozens of people attended Friday's event, including Ms Jackson's family, current and former Supreme Court justices, members of Mr Biden's Cabinet and Democratic members of Congress.

She will replace retiring liberal justice Stephen Breyer once the current term ends.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: April 08, 2022, 8:55 PM
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