(CNSNews.com) - In a speech prior to the confirmation of Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Thursday mentioned “notable moments in America’s history” for African-Americans, pointing out the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall, as the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice but omitting the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas, who currently serves on the high court.
“Two years after the Voting Rights Act, we confirmed the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court - Justice Thurgood Marshall - but I’d like to remind you. That was 50 years ago. Now with the passage of that time, we are beginning to write a new chapter in our nation’s quest for equal justice under the law, and that chapter begins with three letters: KBJ,” Durbin said.
Here is a portion of Durbin’s speech:
Mr. President, this Capitol building has served as the backdrop for some of the most notable moments in America’s history. In this building wars have been declared. Peace treaties have been signed, and the march toward progress has either moved forward or has been stopped in its tracks. Today the members of this Senate have the opportunity to take a monumental step forward.`
We will vote to confirm a once in a generation legal talent, a jurist with outstanding credentials and a lifetime of experience, and the first ever African-American woman to serve as justice on the Supreme Court - Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Judge Jackson’s confirmation will be a glass-shattering achievement for America. Consider this moment in history.
When the Supreme Court first met in this building in February of 1801, there were 1 million slaves in this nation, a nation of 5 million people. This very building was built with the labor of enslaved people, and at the time the court met, neither black Americans nor white women had a constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. Women had no place in that first Supreme Court chamber, and black women would only enter to clean it in the dark of the night.
We know what followed. America’s battle to end slavery saw a bloody civil war, decades of efforts to break down racial barriers, and the efforts continue to this day, and our struggle to enfranchise and empower women did not end with the 19th Amendment 102 years ago. It continues to this day as well as we strive to give our daughters the same opportunities we give our sons.
This confirmation of the first black woman to the Supreme Court honors the history that has come before it. It honors the struggles of the past of the men and women who wage them, and this confirmation draws America one step closer, one step to healing our nation, one step closer to a more perfect union.
Nearly a century after our founding, we guaranteed the rights of citizenship finally to every American, including for the first time those who were born into bondage with the ratification of the 14th Amendment. It took a long century later for us to expand the bounds of liberty again. We ensured the federal government could vigorously protect the right to vote, the most fundamental of rights, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1967.
One victory for progress begat the next. Two years after the Voting Rights Act, we confirmed the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court - Justice Thurgood Marshall - but I’d like to remind you. That was 50 years ago. Now with the passage of that time, we are beginning to write a new chapter in our nation’s quest for equal justice under the law, and that chapter begins with three letters: KBJ.
With Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the highest court in the land, we are not only making history, we are carrying on a great American tradition, elevating one of our nation’s best and brightest legal minds to an honored position of service. There’s no one more deserving of this high honor.