Ketanji Brown Jackson is on the cusp of ascending to the Supreme Court, in what will be the first Senate confirmation of a Black woman to the nation's highest bench. An initial vote to avoid dozens of hours of debate on the 51-year-old judge's nomination will take place around 11am Thursday, after a deal struck by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer with all 100 senators, reports the New York Times. After senators have the opportunity to speak on Jackson for just a few hours, a final confirmation vote will take place around 1:45pm. All Democratic senators are expected to vote yes on her confirmation, as are three GOP senators: Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins, who was the first Republican to announce support for Jackson.
"Never before has the Supreme Court had a Black woman bear the title 'Justice,'" Schumer says, per the Wall Street Journal. "She will be the first, and I have no doubt in my mind that she will pave the way for others in the future." Jackson, who will replace liberal Justice Stephen Breyer after he retires this summer, will not only be the first Black woman on the high court, but also the first justice to have served as a public defender. During Jackson's confirmation hearings, other Republicans cited the judge's sentencing record and judicial approach as roadblocks to their votes of "yea." Her time as a public defender also came under fire, with GOP senators bringing up her defense of Guantanamo Bay detainees, among other criticisms.
"As the majority party, Democrats are entitled to the last word if they want it," the Times notes of Thursday's process, noting that Republicans will have one final chance before that to "try to sway their colleagues and show that they fought until the bitter end." Once Jackson takes her seat on the bench, the Supreme Court will continue to lean in the conservative judges' favor, by a 6-3 count (Jackson will join Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor on the liberal side). Still, Thursday "will be a joyous day," Schumer said, per the Hill. "Joyous for the Senate, joyous for the Supreme Court, joyous for America." He added: "America ... will take a giant step to becoming a perfect nation." (Read more Ketanji Brown Jackson stories.)