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Ketanji Brown Jackson: Supreme Court confirmation 'is the greatest honor'

Jackson wipes a tear as she speaks. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

April 8 (UPI) -- Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said Friday "it is the greatest honor" of her life to be confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice in a White House event celebrating the historic moment alongside President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Speaking on the South Lawn, Jackson thanked those who helped her on her "incredible journey" to the highest court in the country.

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"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," she said. "But we've made it. We've made it. All of us. All of us.

"Our children are telling me that they see now more than ever that here in America, anything is possible."

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Jackson was at the White House with Biden on Thursday as the Senate voted on her nomination to the high court bench. Photos show them watching the proceeding on television as the historic nomination was finalized by a 53-47 vote. Three Republicans joined Democrats in confirming Jackson, a former public defender and judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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Speaking at the Friday event, Biden said Jackson showed "incredible character and integrity" through a difficult confirmation process.

"I knew the person I nominated would be put through a painful and difficult confirmation process. But I have to tell you, what Judge Jackson was put through was well beyond that. It was verbal abuse -- the anger, the constant interruptions, the most vile, baseless assertions and accusations," he said.

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"Poise and composure. Patience and restraint. And, yes, perseverance and even jot. Judge, you are the very definition of what we Irish refer to as dignity. You have enormous dignity."

Brown invoked those who came before her and cleared the path "so that I might rise to this occasion," including poet Maya Angelou, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and her "personal heroine," Judge Constance Baker Motley.

"They and so many others did the heavy lifting that made this day possible," Jackson said. "I think of them as the true path-breakers."

Jackson will formally succeed 83-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires after the high court's term ends in June. Jackson is Biden's first Supreme Court nominee.

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With Jackson's confirmation, the ideological balance of the Supreme Court remains with a 6-3 conservative edge. For the first time, however, the high court will now include four women -- Jackson and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett. Sotomayor and Kagan were appointed by former President Barack Obama and Barrett by former President Donald Trump.

Overall, Jackson is the sixth woman to ascend to the Supreme Court -- following Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981, Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993, Sotomayor in 2009, Kagan in 2010 and Barrett in 2020.

Friday's event included the first public remarks from Jackson since her confirmation.

The White House also invited current and past Supreme Court justices, members of the Cabinet and senators to Friday's celebration.

"Judge Jackson is a hero to so many Americans across our country," Harris, the first Black woman to serve as vice president, said in a tweet on Thursday, which was just one of many congratulatory messages for the new Supreme Court justice.

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"Congratulations to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for her appointment to the Supreme Court. This is a great day for America, and a proud moment in our history," Obama said in a tweet.

"Congratulations to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on her extraordinarily well-deserved confirmation as the next Supreme Court Justice. Today is a great day for America," added former President Bill Clinton.

Jackson's confirmation came almost 55 years after Thurgood Marshall became the first Black Supreme Court justice. He served from 1967 until his retirement in 1991. He died in 1993 at the age of 84. Jackson will be the third Black justice on the high court, after Marshall and Clarence Thomas.

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