President Joe Biden slammed Republican senators on Friday for the ‘vile’ abuse he said they heaped on Ketanji Brown Jackson during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
He appeared alongside the newest justice on the south lawn of the White House for a celebration of the historic vote a day earlier to elevate the first black woman to the Supreme Court.
The sun shone and the Marine band played show tunes and pop songs before Biden used the setting to blast his opponents in the Senate.
‘I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I knew the person I nominated would be put through a painful and difficult confirmation process,’ he said.
‘But I have to tell you, what Judge Jackson was put through was well beyond that.
‘There was verbal abuse, the anger, the constant interruptions, the most vile, baseless assertions and accusations.
‘In the face of it all Judge Jackson showed the incredible character and integrity she possesses.’
President Joe Biden appeared on Friday alongside Vice President Kamala Harris to celebrate the arrival of Ketanji Brown Jackson (left) on the Supreme Court of the United States
The event was billed as a celebration by a White House and Democratic party that has been thin on victories recently. But Biden used it to attack Republican senators
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s husband Dr. Patrick Jackson and daughter Leila Jackson arrive on the South Lawn for the event on Friday to celebrate her appointment to the Supreme Court
Hundreds of guests stood and applauded the first black, female justice on the Supreme Court
COVID-19 has laid law much of Washington’s political elite this week, but it didn’t stop Biden hugging Jackson, the first black, female justice on the Supreme Court
Jackson, 51, a federal appellate judge, was confirmed to the lifetime post by the Senate on Thursday on a 53-47 vote in a milestone for the United States and a political victory for the Democratic president.
She will replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, 83.
But to get there she had to face hours of grilling by Republican senators who attacked her record as a public defender and as judge on her sentencing.
This week Sen. Tom Cotton suggested that she would have defended Nazis.
‘The last Judge Jackson left the Supreme Court to go to Nuremberg and prosecute the case against the Nazis,’ he said on Tuesday, as the Senate debated her nomination, referring to Justice Robert H Jackson, who was chief counsel in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.
‘This Judge Jackson might have gone there to defend them.’
Sen. Josh Hawley led the Republican charge with a Twitter thread that previewed his line of questioning during the hearings.
He claimed that Jackson had a history of letting ‘child porn offenders off the hook’ in the courtroom and in her legal opinions.
Republicans also ridiculed her when she steered clear of a trap when she was asked if she could define the word “woman.’
‘No, I can’t,’ she declared, before adding: ‘I’m not a biologist’.
Kamala Harris said: ‘Judge Jackson, you will inspire generations of leaders. They will watch your confirmation hearings and read your decisions in the years to come.’
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson refused to define the word ‘woman’ during the second day of her confirmation hearing conducted by the US Senate’s Judiciary Committee
But for most of the event the mood was lighter.
‘We’re going to look back and see this is a moment of real change in American history,’ Biden said during his more celebratory remarks.
He also praised the three Republican senators who broke ranks to vote with Democrats: Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.
And he laid out his definition of America as the land of possibilities.
‘That’s why we’re viewed as the ugly Americans – we think anything’s possible.
‘That idea that a young girl who was dissuaded from even thinking you should apply to Harvard Law School…’ could make it to the Supreme Court, he said, bore out the idea that anything was possible.
He stood in front of the south portico, which was decked out in flags.
Several hundred guests stood and cheered as Biden and his guest of honor arrived.
‘It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,’ said Jackson.
‘But we’ve made it. We’ve made it … all of us, all of us.
‘And our children are telling me that they see now more than ever that here in America, anything is possible.’
She thanked the Democratic ‘sherpas’ who guided her through the confirmation process, as well as colleagues and family who helped her legal career.
‘I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride,’ she said.
‘We have come a long way toward perfecting our union.
‘In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.’
The outdoor setting was in part a safety measure against COVID-19 which has cut a swath through the Washington elite during the past week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said a day earlier.
President Biden watched the vote tally come in with Jackson in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Thursday afternoon
Democrats broke out into raucous applause after Jackson was confirmed. Sen. Mitt Romney is seen above applauding alone on the Republican side – he was one of only three GOP senators to vote for Jackson’s confirmation
‘This is a tremendously historic day in the White House and in the country, and this is a fulfillment of a promise the president made to the country,’ said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
In nominating Jackson, Biden delivered on a campaign promise to select the first black woman to serve on a court filled almost exclusively by white men for almost two centuries.
He also chose an attorney who will be the high court’s first former public defender — with the elite legal background of other justices as well. She has degrees from Harvard and Harvard Law School and held top clerkships, including for Breyer himself.
Jackson’s arrival on the bench won’t change the 6-3 conservative majority. But it comes with political and historic resonance.
Biden nominated her on the second anniversary of his pledge ahead of the South Carolina presidential primary to select a Black woman for the court. The move helped resurrect his flailing campaign and preserved his pathway to the White House.
‘We’ve taken another step toward making our highest court reflect the diversity of America,’ Biden said in a tweet Thursday after posing for a selfie with the justice-in-waiting. ‘She will be an incredible Justice, and I was honored to share this moment with her.’