Trailblazing Bay Area Jurist Reflects on Senate Confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson


SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Thursday night, the U.S. Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court.

“The yeas are 53. The nays are 47 and this nomination is confirmed,” Vice President Kamala Harris said with a smile, as she announced the results of the Senate vote confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, as supporters in the Senate chambers cheered and applauded.

One Bay Area judge also managed to shatter glass ceilings and she talked with KPIX about the significance of this moment.

“I was standing in my kitchen, watching the TV and I watched the vote as it went down. I was clapping too. I’m so happy for her and I’m happy for America.”

That was the reaction of former Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell.

“We are finally, slowly, getting to the point where we’re going to have a Supreme Court that looks like America,” Cordell said.

Cordell was the only Black woman in her law school class at Stanford in the early 1970s. She then became the first Black female judge in Northern California in the early 80s.

“There will be people who will say, ‘Oh, she only got appointed because she’s a Black woman.’ That same thing was said to me and my response is I’d rather be appointed because I’m a Black woman than not be appointed because I’m a Black woman,” Cordell said.

Newly confirmed Justice Jackson is a former public defender and trial court judge. She will be the fourth person of color and the sixth woman in the high court’s 233-year history.

The confirmation hearings were heated.

Republicans said Jackson is soft on crime and is an extremist.

“Based on her record, I believe she will prove to be the furthest left of any justice to have ever served on the Supreme Court,” said Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas.

“Thirty hours of questioning, most of which from the Republican side was hostile, was disrespectful, was race-baiting and yet she took the high road and just persevered,” Cordell observed. She questions the roots of the criticism leveled against Jackson.

“She went to Harvard undergrad, Harvard Law School, did well, clerked for a U.S. Supreme Court justice and yet there are people saying ‘no, she’s just not good enough.’ There are still people who just can’t accept that we — people of color, women — are qualified,” Cordell said.

Cordell said she’s simply grateful to see this day’s historic vote.

“To be in the highest court and to have broken that barrier. I’m just so glad that I’ve lived to see it,” she said.

Justice Jackson will be sworn in sometime this summer and will start hearing cases in October. Even with the addition of Jackson, the nine-person court still has a strong conservative 6-3 majority.

 

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