Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Nomination Of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson To The Supreme Court

April 6, 2022

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the nomination of Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court and the historic progress Senate Democrats have made in confirming federal judges with diverse backgrounds and experience. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The United States Senate, happily, wonderfully, is on the brink of completing one of the most important responsibilities entrusted to it under the Constitution: consenting to the President’s nominee for the US Supreme Court. And as I said, happily and wonderfully, it will be the first African American woman to ever serve on that august body.

Anytime the Senate elevates someone to the highest pinnacles of the federal judiciary, the impacts literally last a lifetime, and often far beyond that. The men and women who sit on the Supreme Court have the power to render judgment on any question they see fit that comes before them. The consequences of their decisions are seen and felt and reckoned with from here to the farthest corners of our country.

So confirming a Supreme Court nominee is, in other words, a big deal for the Senate. One of the biggest deals, in fact.

And before the week is out the chamber is set to follow through once again on this august and awesome responsibility.

But of course, even though this is one of the biggest deals for the Senate to do in any situation, it’s even a bigger deal now. This time is different. The nominee—the 116th Justice—is different in some important ways than those who came before.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, like many before her, is brilliant, accomplished and qualified to be on the Court.

But never before has the Supreme Court had a Black woman bear the title “Justice.” She will be the first, and I have no doubt in my mind that she will pave the way for others in the future.

The exultation among so many who have waited for this moment, of young girls throughout America who may say, I can do this, too. The untapped potential, even for young people, particularly women of color, who are not interested in the law or the Supreme Court, but to say I can go somewhere, I can do something, I can get there, is going to be great for America.

There are many considerations that the Senate should ponder when we are faced with the question of confirming judges. Diversity and representation is certainly one of them; it is a key feature of a healthy and vibrant democracy. When Americans of all walks of life come before the court, of course, they should have confidence that those who don the robes have the ability to walk in their own shoes, to see and understand their side of the story.

That’s why diversity of background and experience has been one of the most important priorities in the Senate as we have confirmed the President’s judges. And over the last year, as has been noted, we have made incredible progress on that front.

Of the 58 Senate-confirmed judges, three quarters have been women.

Two thirds have been people of color.

And to be clear: these judges are diverse not just through their background but in their experiences: more public defenders, more civil rights attorneys, more nonprofit lawyers have been added to the federal bench.

After years of the previous administration confirming judges that were disproportionately white, disproportionately male, disproportionately from big law firms, Senate Democrats are working to bring balance back to our judiciary. It will make our democracy healthier, fairer, and stronger as the country grows increasingly diverse in this century.

Judge Jackson’s confirmation will be a major step towards achieving that goal, and I so look forward to finishing the work to confirm this most qualified, most deserving, most historic nominee. 

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