On Thursday, the United States Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to become a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
It is a historic step for a society that kept Black Americans in servitude for two-and-a-half centuries and then continued to deprive them of political and economic rights for another century; a society that also held women back in countless ways for many long decades. Jackson’s appointment to our highest court is a marker of progress toward creating a more perfect union.
It is worth noting, though, that, leaving aside her skin color and gender, Jackson’s qualifications for the job and her judicial temperament are as stellar as the qualifications and temperament of any recent addition to the court, if not more so. This is not a case of affirmative action, at least in the pejorative sense that some use that term.
Because she is so highly qualified, Senate Republicans were forced to concoct bogus criticisms and set up straw men to justify their opposition to Jackson’s nomination by President Joe Biden. In the end, the only Republicans who voted to confirm the judge were Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
As soon as the confirmation vote was announced, all the Senate Democrats rose to cheer the result while every Republican senator scurried out the doors of the chamber – all, that is, but one. Romney stood alone, applauding and displaying the kind of dignity and respectfulness that his caucus colleagues lack.
With their show of petulance, the Republicans may have been trying to make some sort of statement to their constituents who demand displays of rancor and rudeness, but their votes said everything we need to know. On a historic day when the nation advanced one more step toward justice and equality, 47 Republican senators put themselves on the wrong side of history.
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