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Jackson at White House after historic confirmation to high court

WASHINGTON (CN) — President Joe Biden took a victory lap Friday with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson after her appointment to the Supreme Court made it through the Senate a day earlier with no small amount of pushback from Republicans across the aisle.

“I knew the person I nominated will be put through a painful and difficult confirmation process, but I have to tell you what Judge Jackson was put through was well beyond that,” Biden said this afternoon on the South Lawn of the White House. “There was verbal abuse, the anger, the constant interruptions, the most vile baseless assertions and accusations.” 

Biden said he expected his nominee to be put through a “painful and difficult” confirmation process but claimed Jackson faced abuse. Some Republican senators attacked Jackson’s history as a public defender and characterized her as soft on crime despite Jackson’s endorsement from law enforcement groups. 

Jackson faced over 20 hours of questioning and almost 100 meetings Jackson completed during her confirmation process, Biden noted, but he said her strong character was unshakeable in spite of what was thrown her way. 

“You have enormous dignity and it communicates to people,” Biden said to Jackson. “It’s contagious, and it matters a lot.” 

The Senate voted 53-47 on Thursday to confirm Jackson to the Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to earn a seat on the high court’s bench. In his speech this afternoon, the president underscored Jackson’s history as a former federal public defender as well as his commitment to nominating a Black woman for the Supreme Court’s first opening of his term.

​​“We’re going to look back and see this is a moment of real change in American history,” said Biden, who was joined at the event by both Jackson and Vice President Kamala Harris, herself not only the first woman of color but indeed the first woman in history to serve as vice president of the United States.

Jackson called her appointment “the greatest honor of my life” thanking Biden, Harris, her family, and a long list of colleagues, friends, and others. 

Appearing to tear up at times, Jackson reflected on her historic achievement. 

“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, but we’ve made it,” Jackson said to applause. “We’ve made it all of us, all of us. And our children are telling me that they see now more than ever here in America anything is possible.” 

While acknowledging her own hard work that got her to the court, Jackson also noted the work of generations before her while quoting American poet Maya Angelou, “I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” 

Jackson remarked on the country’s strides decades after the civil rights movement. 

“We have come a long way toward perfecting our union,” Jackson said. “In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.” 

She also took the moment to promise to rule independently as a justice. During her confirmation hearings, some senators questioned her judicial philosophy in an attempt to paint her as an activist judge. 

“I’ve also spent the better part of the past decade hearing thousands of cases and writing hundreds of opinions, and in every instance, I have done my level best to stay in my lane and to reach a result that is consistent with my understanding of the law and with the obligation to rule independently without fear or favor,” Jackson said. “I am humbled and honored to continue in this fashion as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.” 

Unlike some of her predecessors who were sworn in shortly after their confirmation, Jackson will not officially take her spot on the bench until Justice Stephen Breyer steps down at the end of the term.