In introducing the next U.S. Supreme Court justice at a White House event Friday, President Joe Biden singled out Utah Sen. Mitt Romney for voting to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Romney and Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, were the only Republicans to join all 50 Senate Democrats in confirming Jackson in a 53-47 vote Thursday. Romney stood up with Democrats to applaud after the vote. Jackson, who will replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, will be the first Black woman to serve on the high court.
Biden recognized the three GOP senators during a press conference on the South Lawn of the White House.
“And I hope I don’t get them in trouble, I mean this sincerely, but I want to thank three Republicans who voted for Judge Jackson,” the president said as the crowd applauded.
“Sen. Collins, who is a woman of integrity. Sen. Murkowski, the same way, in Alaska up for reelection. And Mitt Romney, whose dad stood up like he did. His dad stood up and made these decisions on civil rights.”
Romney’s father, George Romney, supported the civil rights movement during his tenure as governor of Michigan in the 1960s. Mitt Romney joined a Black Lives Matter march in Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2020.
In a speech, Jackson said it has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court.
“But we’ve made it,” she said. “We’ve made it, all of us.”
Jackson said she is standing on the shoulders of generations of Americans who never had anything close to this opportunity but who got up every day and went to work believing in the promise of America.
“I am also ever buoyed by the leadership of generations past who helped to light the way — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall and my personal heroine Judge Constance Baker Motley,” she said. Motley was the first Black woman to serve as federal judge.
“And for all of the talk of this historic nomination and now confirmation, I think of them as the true path breakers. I am just the very lucky first inheritor of the dream of liberty and justice for all.”
Jackson said the country has come a long way toward perfecting the union. “In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States,” she said.
Biden said Romney, Murkowski and Collins deserve “enormous” credit for setting aside partisanship and making a carefully considered judgment based on the judge’s character, qualifications and independence. He said he admires the diligence and hard work they demonstrated during the confirmation process.
The president said he always believed a bipartisan vote was possible, notwithstanding the harassment and attacks on Jackson during her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a video that has since gone viral, Romney is seen standing alone applauding Jackson’s confirmation as his Republican colleagues, including Utah Sen. Mike Lee, walk out of the Senate chamber after the vote. Romney did not attend the White House press conference Friday.
Some Republicans walk out during the applause. Mitt Romney stays and continues to clap pic.twitter.com/b9z8huQQIY— Acyn (@Acyn) April 7, 2022
Some conservative Republicans, including Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, attacked Romney, Collins and Murkowski on social media for supporting Jackson. Greene called the three senators “pro-pedophile.” Republicans on the Judiciary Committee questioned Jackson’s handing out lesser sentences in child pornography cases.
Biden said he anticipated the confirmation process would be “painful” for Jackson but said that the GOP questioning of Jackson during the hearing went beyond what he expected.
“I have to tell you, what Judge Jackson was put through was well beyond that. It was verbal abuse — the anger, the constant interruptions, the most vile and baseless assertions and accusations,” he said.
“In the face of it all, Judge Jackson showed the incredible character and integrity she possesses,” Biden said. “Poise, poise and composure. Patience and restraint. And yes, perseverance and even joy.”