What Does Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson’s Confirmation Mean?

Arya Kaul

On April 7, Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the Supreme Court in a 53-47 vote, with three Republicans joining all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in backing her. Her confirmation is historic: when she is sworn into the court to replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer, she will be the first Black woman, as well as the first public defender, to serve as a Supreme Court justice (New York Times). According to CNN, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the moment a “joyous, momentous, groundbreaking day” (CNN). Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to serve as vice president, presided over the chamber during the historic vote. 


A Supreme Court confirmation is always about which political party truly has the power in Congress. The slim margin reflects the current polarization surrounding the politics of judicial confirmations. The three most recent justices – Amy Coney Barret in 2020, Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and Neil Gorsuch in 2017 – were confirmed in similarly tight votes that broke down along mostly party lines (NPR). 


Throughout her confirmation hearings, Judge Jackson demonstrated her qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice. She personified grace and integrity in the face of many outrageous attacks on her character and impeccable credentials (NPR). Her confirmation and her professionalism give the American people an opportunity to visualize Black women being “unapologetically confident and successful” (New York Times). Her background as a public defender brings an underrepresented perspective to the Supreme Court and during the hearings, she had to navigate the politics of having represented unpopular clients (New York Times). 

For Ramapo High School junior Mackenzie Morante, Judge Jackson’s confirmation provided her with “peace of mind and inspiration that women can really do anything.” Ramapo High School supervisor of guidance and advisor of the Cultural Diversity Awareness club, Mrs. Perry said, “The confirmation of Justice Kentaji Brown Jackson is a long-awaited step to racial equity in all aspects of our government, specifically in our judicial system. Her confirmation is a tremendous step forward for people of color and women both in our government and society. As reinforced through the Cultural Diversity Awareness Club, representation matters as does the commitment to be understood across differences.”


In a patriarchal society where women are often suppressed and faced with double standards, seeing a woman, and a woman of color nonetheless, achieving one of the greatest honors in America, is inspirational, to say the least. It is a proud moment for our country and it is a testament to the progress American society has made, and the progress America will continue to endure with Judge Jackson’s confirmation.