Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson gave a stunningly emotional speech at the White House this past Friday, marking a moment that will go down in the history books.
During Jackson’s confrontation, there were moments of confrontation and contentiousness, with Senate Republicans diving into political grievances with Democrats or culture wars.
And at the South Lawn of the White House, President Joe Biden called the process “verbal abuse,” and praised Jackson for her stoicism during her hearings as well as her “brilliant legal mind with deep knowledge of the law.”
Jackson thanked Biden and supporters through tears, as well as thanked the children who sent notes, letters, and drawings during the nomination process.
“I know I’m not alone,” Jackson said. “I’m standing on the shoulders of my own role models, generations of Americans who never had anything close to this kind of opportunity, but who got up every day and went to work believing in the promise of America, showing others through their determination and, yes, perseverance that good things can be done in this great country.”
Jackson is the third Black person and the sixth woman in its history to join the bench.
“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,” she said.
Jackson also joins the court with similar accomplishments as other justices, such as Harvard degrees and selective clerkships. In addition, the new associate justice also carries with her experience as a federal public defender and member of the US Sentencing Commission.
Jackson, whose own parents were victims of segregation, made sure to honor those before her who helped guide the way for the historic moment.
“I am also ever buoyed by the leadership of generations past who helped light the way,” Jackson said, mentioning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Judge Constance Baker Motley, who served as the first Black woman on a federal court.
“For all the talk of this historic nomination and now confirmation, I think of them as the true path-breakers,” she said. “I’m just the very lucky inheritor of the dream of liberty and justice for all.”
Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both wiped tears away during Jackson’s speech.
“To be sure, I have worked hard to get to this point in my career and have now achieved something far beyond anything that my grandparents could have possibly imagined,” Jackson said.
“But no one does this on their own. The path was cleared for me so that I might rise to this occasion and, in the poetic words of Dr. Maya Angelou, I do so now while bringing the gifts my ancestors gave: I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”
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