Caribbean pols welcome historic confirmation of first Black woman to US Supreme Court

U.S. President Joe Biden and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson watch as Senate votes to confirm Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, from the White House in Washington
U.S. President Joe Biden and Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson watch as the full U.S. Senate votes to confirm Jackson as the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, from the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 7, 2022.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Caribbean American legislators in New York have wholeheartedly welcomed Thursday’s historic confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to be elevated to the Supreme Court of the United States, the highest court in America.

The US Senate voted 53 to 47, with three Republicans joining all 50 Democrats to confirm Judge Brown Jackson’s ascendency in the court’s 233-year history.

Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah crossed party lines in voting with Democrats to confirm Judge Brown Jackson, 51.

“These are the moments that make history,” exclaimed Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, after Thursday’s vote. “President Biden’s nomination of DC Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court is not just timely and necessary, it is a fulfilled promise that is instrumental to a healthy democracy.

“This historic confirmation is a renewed pledge of America in pursuit of a more just society, and I am deeply grateful to bear witness to this change in the winds towards a more equitable and just society,” Clarke, who represents the primarily Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life.

“Judge Jackson is a shining example of what this nation can be when we come together, in spite of our differences, to create a country for the good and understanding of all its people,” she added. “Judge Jackson is the ‘I Rise’ and the ‘I am’ unfolding on the world stage.”

The congresswoman said President Joe Biden’s decision to nominate a Black woman to serve as the next Supreme Court Associate Justice represents “the culmination of centuries of struggles and perseverance,” stating “it is not lost on me that we are all truly blessed to witness this moment in our American history.

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke. Photo by Nelson A. King

“This momentous occasion also highlights Judge Jackson’s scholarly and legal acumen, her dedication, hard work, commitment and decades of outstanding service on behalf of the American people,” Clarke said, adding that Judge Brown Jackson also brings along “a wealth of cultural experiences that will fundamentally raise the Supreme Court’s ability to fulfill its purpose to uphold equal justice for all Americans, regardless of their race, sex or background.”

“Today, millions of young Black women and girls are endowed with a new understanding of what is possible in this nation,” she continued. “And that is reflective of the transformative power of representation. This extraordinary node in our history chronicles the progress of our shared humanity and unifies us on the Founding Principles of the United States of America.

“May Justice Jackson be protected and divinely guided in her work in the years to come for all Americans!” Clarke declared.

In celebrating Judge Brown Jackson confirmation, New York State Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the Haitian American chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, described the jurist as “a highly accomplished, experienced and fair justice, the most qualified nominee we’ve seen in years.

“She is sure to not only be a force on the bench but an inspiration to young Black women who, at long last, see a reflection of themselves on the nation’s highest court,” said the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn. “Judge Jackson’s confirmation is the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of every preceding generation.

“We owe this historic moment to President Biden, who deserves full credit for delivering on his promise to put a Black woman on the bench, and to the three senators who broke rank with their party in an act of courage,” Bichotte Hermelyn added. “I am proud that Democrats continue to lead the nation toward a more equitable future for all.”

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, said: “The history she makes today will be followed and compounded by the decisions she will craft, as her voice helps to define the direction of our country for decades to come.

“This moment will reverberate across our country as young women, and especially young Black women, like my two daughters, see the first Black woman on the Supreme Court and feel the importance of her place in history, as well as the impact of her place on the bench,” added Williams, a candidate for Governor of New York in June’s Democratic Primary.

“Her record of achievement and her resolve in the face of attacks each speak to the powerful, critical role she will play as an eminently qualified and deeply thoughtful addition to the court,” he continued. “While today we celebrate her confirmation, Justice Jackson’s hearings served as another reminder that Black women are held to different and ever-changing standards in our country.

“The country watched – Black women watched – as Republican senators unleashed their anger, resentment and bitterness over Justice Kavanaugh’s hearings on Justice Jackson, attempted to malign her unblemished record with outright lies, and, ultimately, voted against her,” Williams said. “I am eager to see Justice Jackson’s work to, in her own words, make ‘equal justice under the law a reality, not just an ideal.’”

Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, described Thursday’s confirmation as “a moment of historic consequence.

“The Senate just voted — 53 to 47 — to confirm the first Black woman to serve on the highest court in the land, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson,” said Beatty, whose caucus was highly supportive of, and lobbied for, Judge Brown Jackson. “Her judicial temperament and keen legal skills will make her a justice, of which all America proud.

“As she makes history today, she stands on the shoulders of the Black female trailblazers who came before her,” she added. “And today, we sent a message to Black women and little girls, like my granddaughter Leah: Anything is possible. This is our power and our message.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who prides herself in being “a good friend of the Caribbean”, said Judge Brown Jackson’s position on the US Supreme Court “will better reflect the diversity and inclusivity of this nation.

“Judge Jackson is the embodiment of the American dream,” said James, the first Black attorney general in New York State’s history, the first woman elected attorney general in New York and the first Black woman elected to statewide office in New York. “Hers is a story of resilience, courage, dignity and strength — all of which she demonstrated before the world during her confirmation hearings.

“A passionate defender of justice, she is an inspiration to millions, including Black girls, who will see themselves represented on America’s highest court for the first time,” James added. “I congratulate Judge Brown Jackson on her confirmation, and I join millions of Americans throughout the country in celebrating this important and historic moment.”

Judge Brown Jackson, who holds two degrees, including one in law, from the prestigious Ivy League Harvard University in Massachusetts, will replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer, when he retires this summer at the conclusion of the US Supreme Court’s session.

Judge Brown Jackson, who was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Miami, Fl., has been serving as a US federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2021.

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