Photographers captured the emotional moments after President Joe Biden and Kentanji Brown Jackson watched the Senate vote to confirm Jackson to the Supreme Court Thursday.
The 51-year-old appeals court judge with nine years of experience on the federal bench, became the first Black female justice after a vote of 53-47, mostly along party lines but with three Republican votes. Presiding was Vice President Kamala Harris, also the first Black woman to reach that high office.
Jackson, who will take her seat on the court when Justice Stephen Breyer retires this summer, joined the president to watch the votes come in on a televised feed. When her confirmation was made official, the two embraced.
“Judge Jackson’s confirmation was a historic moment for our nation,” Biden tweeted, sharing an image of him taking a selfie with Jackson. “We’ve taken another step toward making our highest court reflect the diversity of America. She will be an incredible Justice, and I was honored to share this moment with her.”
During the four days of Senate hearings last month, Jackson spoke of her parents’ struggles through racial segregation and said her “path was clearer” than theirs as a Black American after the enactment of civil rights laws. She attended Harvard University, served as a public defender, worked at a private law firm and was appointed as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
She told senators she would apply the law “without fear or favor,” and pushed back on Republican attempts to portray her as too lenient on criminals she had sentenced.
Jackson will be just the third Black justice, after Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, and the sixth woman. She will join three other women, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan Amy Coney Barrett – meaning that four of the nine justices will be women for the first time in history.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.