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Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed by Senate as first Black woman on Supreme Court

Jackson, 51, becomes the second-youngest member of the court and the first justice with experience as a public defender since Thurgood Marshall retired in 1991.

Ketanji Brown Jackson has become the first Black woman to be confirmed to the Supreme Court in its 233-year history.

The 51-year-old justice was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday after a weekslong process in which she faced hours of questioning from senators on both sides of the aisle at her confirmation hearings. The vote was 53 to 47, with Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah joining all 50 Democrats supporting the nominee.

Jackson becomes the second-youngest member of the nation's highest court behind Amy Coney Barrett, 50, and just the third Black justice in history after the late Thurgood Marshall and current Justice Clarence Thomas. She is the sixth woman in history to join the Supreme Court.

Jackson is also the first justice with prior experience as a public defender and defense attorney since Marshall retired from the court in 1991. She is the 116th Supreme Court justice since the court was established in 1789 — of those, 108 have been white men.

She also has been an inspiration to many Black mothers and her own daughter during her journey to joining the court.

Jackson worked as an attorney in private practice and as a federal public defender before serving in multiple positions for the U.S. Sentencing Commission. She was confirmed as a federal judge in 2013 after being nominated by former President Barack Obama.

She served eight years as a federal trial judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and then was confirmed as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in June 2021.

Jackson was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Joe Biden in February. She will take the spot vacated by Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, who announced his retirement in January after more than 27 years on the Court. Jackson will take office this summer after Breyer officially steps down following the court's current term.

She becomes the latest Ivy Leaguer to join the court, as she graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1996 after earning her undergraduate degree at Harvard in 1992.

Seven of the eight current members of the Supreme Court graduated from either Harvard or Yale. Barrett, who earned her law degree at Notre Dame, is the only non-Ivy Leaguer.