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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Confirmation Of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson As An Associate Justice Of The United States Supreme Court

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor immediately before the Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

This is a wonderful day, a joyous day, and inspiring day: for the Senate, for the Supreme Court, and the United States of America.

Today, we are here to vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as the 116th Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

A few days ago, I spoke with a group of eight graders from Cheektowaga, New York. Many of them were students of color.

It was amazing – when I mentioned that this week we were confirming the Judge, you could see them light up. The unmistakable look in their eyes: one day, each lady thought to herself, I can do it too.

You know, it’s been a very dark two years with COVID; people getting sick and dying, many of whom we knew, stores closing, schools shutting their doors.
But even in the darkest times, there are bright lights. Today is one of the brightest lights, and let us hope it’s a metaphor, an indication, of many more bright lights to come.

As I have said over and over again, there are three words I think best fit Judge Jackson. Brilliant. Beloved. Belongs.

Judge Jackson is in every sense – and by all measures – a brilliant jurist. She is indeed a brilliant person.

By the Judge’s own telling, she first discovered her calling to the law not in a classroom or by reading a book or by talking to lawyers, but by sitting at the kitchen table next to her dad, filling out her coloring book while her dad pored through case law.

Years from now, other parents and other daughters will do the same, and it will be Justice Jackson’s opinions that will lay open on the table. The Judge’s parents—her entire family—should beam with pride that this day has come.

At every step of her upbringing and career, Ketanji Brown Jackson ranked among the highest of achievers.

And look, we should take a moment to note that Judge Jackson will be the first and only Justice with experience as a public defender. We’re proud of that, and America is proud of that. It will enhance the Court’s ability to preserve a basic truth in our country: that all deserve equal justice under the law—from the privileged to the impoverished.

In an imperfect world, the Judge conquered so many hurdles and today stands as one of the most experienced individuals ever nominated to the Supreme Court.

For this reason, the Judge is also beloved by individuals and organizations across the political spectrum. I went through her record carefully, and never did I find one instance of a peer or colleague or associate say one negative word about her. It was incredible. When you go through these records you often find someone here and there who will bad mouth the individual, who knew them. Not with Judge Jackson.

And lest we forget, the Judge is popular in the minds of the American people. A Gallup poll released after her hearings showed nearly 60% of the public supports her confirmation, ten points above the historical norm.

And there is no question here: the country by and large wants the Senate to confirm Judge Jackson.

Police chiefs want to confirm Judge Jackson.

Conservative and moderate and liberal judges all want us to confirm Judge Jackson.

And I thank all my colleagues in this chamber who worked in good faith to make sure the Senate can finish its work today.

Finally, as I’ve said many times, the Judge belongs on the Supreme Court. By that I mean something very specific. In our nation’s history, one hundred fifteen individuals have been confirmed by this body to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Of those, one hundred eight have been white men.

Only five have been women.

Only two have been African American.

But Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first African American woman ever to hold the title of “Justice.”

Think about the impact that will have on our democracy.

Untold millions of kids will open textbooks and see pictures of Justice Jackson among the highest ranks of our public figures.

How many millions of kids in generations past could have benefited from such a role model? How many would-be Justices, lawyers, doctors, generals, business people have been lost to history, precisely because their history books had few if any role models that they could relate to?

We certainly have a long way to go on the road to true justice, but by confirming Judge Jackson today we are taking a bold step forward towards reaching the full realization of our country’s promise.

We will make it far more likely that girls across America will feel precisely what Judge Jackson felt herself when she was a kid: Nobody can stop me; I can do this too; I am brilliant too; I belong too.

For all these reasons, increasing the diversity of the court has been one of my highest priorities, and one of the highest priorities of our Senate Democratic Majority, of whom I am so proud. Justice Jackson is the most important example, but we have been working on this for over a year.

Of the 58 Senate-confirmed federal judges since we took the majority, three quarters have been women.

Two thirds have been people of color.

And it’s not just racial and gender diversity that matters. We have strived to lift up judges that bring diversity through their experience.

More public defenders in our courts, more civil rights lawyers, more election lawyers.

When Americans of all walks of life come before the court, 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, and then apply the law properly, according to the facts.

One judge at a time, one judge at a time, this Majority is expanding the possibilities of who merits consideration to the bench. And I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my Republican colleagues who joined us on this occasion and over the year to achieve this goal.

In closing, I want to thank Chairman Durbin for beautifully executing this nomination process. It was equal parts fair, thorough and expeditious, no easy feat in this modern Senate.

I want to thank all of my Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee – you were just fabulous, every one of you – for your respectful and insightful examination of the Judge’s record.

And I want to thank my Republican colleagues who chose to take this process seriously, no matter which side you voted on.

The President sent us an impressive nominee. She merited a robust and thoughtful and lively examination. I thank the members who did precisely that.

In short, this is one of the great moments of American history. At the time of our Constitution’s ratification, in most states you had to be a white, male, Protestant, landowner to be considered part of American society.

So from the get-go, generations of Americans have sought to establish the United States as a full democracy. We fought a bloody civil war to end slavery. Women organized and reached for the ballot. The civil rights movement brought an end to the vicious segregation of the mid-20th Century.

And today, we are taking a giant, bold, and important step on the well-trodden path to fulfilling our country’s founding promise.

This is a great moment for Judge Jackson, but it is an even greater moment for America, as we rise to a more perfect union.

I thank my colleagues for their work.