What's Next for Ketanji Brown Jackson in the Months Ahead, as Justice-in-Waiting

"I am feeling up to the task," Jackson remarked after 53 senators voted to approve her for a seat on the Supreme Court Thursday

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The biggest hurdle for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is out of the way, after the 51-year-old attorney and jurist was confirmed for a seat on the Supreme Court Thursday. Now, it's time to get to work.

Jackson will have to endure something of a limbo period before she takes her seat on the court until Justice Stephen Breyer — whom she will replace — steps down.

Breyer, who announced his plans to retire in January, is expected to remain on the court until the justices take their summer recess in late June or early July.

In the meantime, Jackson is expected to move forward with screening staffers and clerks. She has vowed to be a "neutral" presence on the court.

When Jackson does take her seat on the court, where conservatives now hold a 6-3 majority, she will not change the ideological balance. She will, however, make history, becoming the first Black woman to serve on the court (and fulfilling a promise made by Joe Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign).

Fifty-three senators voted to approve Jackson for a seat on the court, while 47 voted against confirming her as Kamala Harris — the first Black woman elected vice president of the U.S. — presided over the Senate proceedings.

In remarks delivered after her confirmation, Jackson acknowledged that history had taken place.

"I am feeling up to the task, primarily because I know that I am not alone," Jackson, a Florida native whose parents attended segregated schools, said in a speech delivered in the White House Rose Garden. "I am standing on the shoulders of my own role models, generations of Americans who never had anything close to this kind of opportunity, but who got up every day and went to work believing in the promise of America."

She continued: "My grandparents on both sides, who had only a grade school education but instilled in my parents the importance of learning. To my parents who went to racially segregated schools growing up and were the first in their families to have the chance to go to college."

Growing emotional, Jackson also acknowledged those who came before her, to help pave her path: "I am also ever buoyed by the leadership of generations past who helped to light the way. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall, and my personal heroine, Judge Constance Baker Motley. They and so many others did the heavy lifting that made this day possible."

During his turn to question Jackson, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey praised her for her for how she handled combative questions from some of his colleagues.

"You have earned this spot. You are worthy. You are a great American," he said, as Jackson wiped her tears with a tissue.

"This country gets better and better and better," Booker continued. "When that final vote happens, and you ascend onto the highest court in the land, I'm going to rejoice. And I'm going to tell you right now, the greatest country in the world, the United States of America, will be better because of you."

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