First Black Woman Vice President Presides Over Vote Confirming First Black Woman Supreme Court Justice

The Senate witnessed a double dose of history when Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

WASHINGTON ― The Senate made history on Thursday when it confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, a long-awaited moment that delighted Jackson’s supporters and many Black Americans.

The historic moment was made even sweeter by the fact that Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to serve in her post, presided over Jackson’s confirmation vote.

Harris flashed a big smile as she read the tally aloud from the dais after each senator cast their vote from their seat, a rare occurrence reserved for consequential moments. The vice president also serves as the president of the Senate and may preside over votes when he or she chooses.

“On this vote, the yays are 53, the nays are 47, and this nomination is confirmed,” Harris said moments before a loud and sustained round of applause broke out in the chamber.

Democrats could barely contain themselves in celebrating Jackson’s confirmation on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) hailed it as a “joyous, momentous, [and] groundbreaking day.” A giddy Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was all smiles as he presided over an earlier vote cutting off debate on Jackson’s nomination, his voice booming in the chamber.

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), whose surprise victory in Georgia’s 2021 Senate runoff election helped Democrats win control of the chamber and made Jackson’s confirmation possible, also took a few minutes to mark Jackson’s confirmation in a floor speech on Thursday.

“Yes, I’m a senator. I’m a pastor. But beyond all of that, I’m the father of a young Black girl,” Warnock said Thursday before the confirmation vote.

“I know how much it means for Judge Jackson to have to navigate the double jeopardy of racism and sexism to now stand in the glory of this moment, with all of her excellence,” he added.

“For my 5-year-old daughter and for so many young women in our country ― but really, if we’re thinking about right, for all of us ― seeing Judge Jackson ascend to the Supreme Court reflects the promise of progress on which our democracy rests,” Warnock said.

Harris spoke with reporters after the vote, calling Jackson’s confirmation a “very important statement about who we aspire to be, who we are, and who we believe ourselves to be.”

She added, “I’m very proud. I’m very proud.”

Arthur Delaney contributed reporting.

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