Alongside 52 U.S. senators, California’s Senator Alex Padilla voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on Thursday. In his remarks that day celebrating the first Black woman to serve on the highest court in the land, Padilla said this was a moment of joy but also of reckoning for the painful treatment Judge Jackson had received during the confirmation hearing. Here is a lightly edited version of Senator Padilla’s speech on April 9.
I rise today to celebrate the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court.
It’s an important moment for the country, but also a special moment for me, because my wife, Angela, and two of our sons are here visiting the Capitol this week. They witnessed history in the making when we voted to confirm Judge Jackson this afternoon. Angela and I take great joy in knowing that not just our three sons, but young people all across the country will see Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as an example of the great heights that they too can achieve.
For the very first time in our history, the Senate has confirmed a Black woman to the Supreme Court. For only the sixth time, we confirmed a woman to the Supreme Court. And for just the fourth time, we confirmed a working mother to the Supreme Court.
It’s also the first time in more than 50 years that the Senate has confirmed a Justice with public defense experience.
This nomination represents progress, and I am heartened that a bipartisan majority of Senators came together to make history today. But I also know that this progress would not be possible without someone brave enough to step ahead on her own. Without someone willing to work twice as hard in order to be the first. Without someone able to persevere, no matter how challenging, difficult, or full of doubt her path ahead may sometimes be.
Madam President, it shouldn’t have been this hard.
Judge Jackson came before the Judiciary Committee with an outstanding judicial record, bipartisan acclaim, and historic qualifications. She came to answer a wide range of important questions. She was forthcoming, clear and gracious.
Many Senators took the opportunity to engage deeply on issues that will shape the future of our nation — technology, voting rights, and tribal sovereignty, among many others.
But sadly, some of our colleagues chose to fill their time with hostility, bad faith, and misleading smears. They chose to hold Judge Jackson to a different standard than other Supreme Court nominees that they had previously supported. And in the same breath as they praised Judge Jackson’s character and qualifications, they denigrated her motives, questioned her impartiality, and made-up excuse after excuse for why they couldn’t support her nomination.
It was painful to watch, not just for me, but for people across the country.
Judge Jackson was in the spotlight for days, but she continually met disrespect with calm composition. It’s an experience that is all too common for those who dare to break new ground.
Judge Jackson was unfairly tested—but she persevered.
Madam President, I believe that Judge Jackson deserved better than the treatment she received in her confirmation process. When Senators cast aside their good faith in questioning nominees, the threat to the integrity of our justice system is real. The cynicism it breeds for our institutions is real. These are issues that this Senate, and each Senator, must confront. But today, I want to celebrate the historic achievement of this confirmation.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve received thousands of letters and emails and messages on social media from Californians who support Judge Jackson’s confirmation. The messages come from people of all backgrounds, from every corner of our state. I’ve heard from Californians who admire the tenacity, grace, and integrity that Judge Jackson showed. From Californians who see themselves in Judge Jackson’s story. And from Californians who say that the Court and our country will be better because of Judge Jackson’s service.
As we cast our historic vote, I celebrate the better America that we are building, where our courts better reflect and understand the country they serve. I celebrate the joy that Judge Jackson has brought to people across the nation. I celebrate the commitment to equal rights and equal justice that she will bring to the Supreme Court. And I celebrate the inspiration she provides to young people—and especially, to young people of color — who will write the next chapter of our American story.
When Judge Jackson introduced herself to the American people, she said that she stood on the shoulders of the civil rights icon, and her personal hero, Judge Constance Baker Motley. For many in the next generation, that hero will be Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
As I’ve said, this confirmation represents one more step toward making our institutions, and our courts, more inclusive for all Americans. In that spirit, I’d ask unanimous consent to make a few additional remarks in Spanish.
Hoy celebramos un momento histórico – celebramos el progreso que logramos en asegurar que la Corte Suprema refleje mejor a nuestro país.
La Jueza Jackson es mas que calificada y va traer perspectivas importantes y necesarias a la Corte Suprema. Desafortunadamente, ella fue atacada por Republicanos durante el proceso de confirmación. Pero a cada ataque, la Jueza Jackson respondió con gracia y paciencia.
Demostró al país que será una jueza excepcional de la Corte Suprema. Y la Jueza Jackson seguirá siendo una inspiración para la próxima generación.
Judge Jackson has earned her place on the Supreme Court.
And while one person — sitting on a court of nine equals — can’t single-handedly create faith in the institution, I have every confidence that Justice Jackson will strengthen the Supreme Court and help our country progress forward.