Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Biden Speaks On Confirmation Of Judge Jackson To Supreme Court; Ketanji Brown Jackson Speaks For First Time Since Her Historic Supreme Court Confirmation. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 08, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Live pictures here of South Lawn of the White House. The First Lady and the Second Gentleman just introduced in just a second the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, and soon to be Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will appear at this event celebrating history, Judge Jackson's elevation, confirmation to the Supreme Court as we wait.

Elliot Williams, Joan Biskupic, Nia-Malika Henderson still with me. Joan, Judge Jackson will speak here. She's unlikely to say much because she's a judge already and about to become a justice. But we should seize on every word and remember every word because once she puts on the black robe and goes to the court, we're going to hear even less, right?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's so true, John. Remember, they don't have cameras in the courtroom, we won't see these kinds of scenes. And as a group, they don't like to be out in public that much. Now Judge Jackson around Washington actually has been much more of a figurine or she would be in go to Shakespearean events, she would often sit on moot courts and do panels. So we might see a little bit more of her. But as I say, as a group we will not see much of Justice Jackson.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of United States accompanied by the Vice President of the United States and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

KING: We all see the chief playing on the South Lawn of the White House, the President walking out with the Vice President and Judge Jackson. The Vice President will speak first followed by the President of the United States. And then again, now U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed as the justice for the Supreme Court. Justice Stephen Breyer will continue on the Supreme Court for the rest of this term. The term usually ends in June or early July. And then Judge Jackson will officially become Justice Jackson, and take her place. A beautiful day here in Washington. This event on the South Lawn again at a time as MJ Lee noted earlier in the program, at a time there's been a lot of COVID cases among Washington elites. Let's listen to Vice President of the United States.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning. Good morning. Good morning, America. Have a seat, please. President Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, members of Congress, members of the Cabinet, members of our administration, and friends and fellow Americans, today is, indeed, a wonderful day as we gather to celebrate the confirmation of the next justice of the United States Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

President George Washington once referred to America as a great experiment, a nation founded on the previously untested belief that the people, we, the people, could form a more perfect union. And that belief has pushed our nation forward for generations. And it is that belief that we reaffirmed yesterday, through the confirmation of the first Black woman to the United States Supreme Court.



HARRIS: And, Judge Jackson, you will inspire generations of leaders. They will watch your confirmation hearings and read your decisions.

In the years to come, the Court will answer fundamental questions about who we are and what kind of country we live in, will we expand opportunity or restrict it? Will we strengthen the foundations of our great democracy or let them crumble? Will we move forward or backward?

The young leaders of our nation will learn from the experience, the judgment, the wisdom that you, Judge Jackson, will apply in every case that comes before you. And they will see, for the first time, four women sitting on that Court at one time.

So, as a point of personal privilege, I will share with you, Judge Jackson, that when I presided over the Senate confirmation vote yesterday, while I was sitting there, I drafted a note to my goddaughter. And I told her that I felt such a deep sense of pride and joy and about what this moment means for our nation and for her future. And I will tell you, her braids are just a little longer than yours. But as I wrote to her, I told her what I knew this would mean for her life and all that she has in terms of potential.

So, indeed, the road toward our more perfect union is not always straight, and it is not always smooth. But sometimes it leads to a day like today, a day that reminds us what is possible, what is possible when progress is made and that the journey, well, it will always be worth it.

So let us not forget that, as we celebrate this day, we are also here in great part because of one President, Joe Biden, and because of Joe Biden's vision and leadership and commitment, a lifelong commitment, to building a better America. And, of course, we are also here because of the voices and the support of so many others, many of whom are in this audience today.

And with that, it is now my extreme and great honor to introduce our President, Joe Biden. JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Kamala. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The first really smart decision I made in this administration.


My name is Joe Biden. Please, sit down. I'm Jill's husband and Naomi Biden's grandfather.

And, folks, you know, yesterday, this is not only a sunny day. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, this is going to let so much shine, sun shine on so many young women, so many young Black women, so many minorities, that it's real. It's real.

We're going to look back nothing to do with me, we're going to look back and see this as a moment of real change in American history.

I was on the phone this morning, Jesse, with President Ramaphosa of South Africa. And he was talking about how the time that I was so outspoken about what was going on and my meeting with Nelson Mandela here. And I said, you know, I said, I'm shortly going to go out, look -- I'm looking out the window, I'm going to go out in this, what they call the South Lawn of the White House, and I'm going to introduce to the world, to the world, the first African American woman out of over 200 judges on the Supreme Court. And he said to me, he said, keep it up. Keep it up. We're going to keep it up.

And, folks, yesterday we all witnessed a truly historic moment presided over by the Vice President. There are moments, if people go back in history, and they're literally historic, consequential, fundamental shifts in American policy.

Today, we're joined by the First Lady, the Second Gentleman, and members of the Cabinet, the Senate Majority Leader. Where -- there you are, Chuck, the Senate Majority Leader, and so many who made this possible.

But -- and today is a good day, a day that history is going to remember. And in the years to come, they're going to be proud of what we did, and we're going to chat Dick Durbin did as the chairman of the committee. I'm serious, Dick. I'm deadly earnest when I say that.

To turn to our children and grandchildren and say, I was there. I was there. That -- this is one of those moments, in my view.

My fellow Americans, today I'm honored to officially introduce to you the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

After more than 20 hours of questioning at her hearing and nearly 100 meetings, she made herself available to every single senator who wanted to speak to her and spoke for more than just a few minutes, answered their questions in private as well as before the committee. We all saw the kind of justice she'll be, fair and impartial, thoughtful, careful, precise, brilliant, a brilliant legal mind with deep knowledge of the law. And a judicial temperament, which was equally important, in my view, that's calm and in command, and a humility that allows so many Americans to see themselves in Ketanji Brown Jackson.

That brings a rare combination of expertise and qualifications to the Court. A federal judge who has served on the second most powerful court in America behind the Supreme Court, a former federal public defender with the ability to explain complicated issues in the law in ways everybody, all people can understand, a new perspective.

When I made the commitment to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, I could see this day. I literally could see this day, because I thought about it for a long, long time. As Jill and Naomi would tell you, I wasn't going to run again. But when I decided to run, this was one of the first decisions I made. I could see it. I could see it as a day of hope, a day of promise, a day of progress; a day when, once again, the moral arc of the universe, as Barack used to quote all the time, bends just a little more toward justice.

I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I knew the person I nominated would be put through a painful and difficult confirmation process. But I have to tell you, what Judge Jackson was put through was well beyond that. There was verbal abuse, the anger, the constant interruptions, the most vile, baseless assertions and accusations.


In the face of it all, Judge Jackson showed the incredible character and integrity she possesses. Poise, poise and composure, patience and restraint, and, yes, perseverance and even joy, even joy.

Ketanji, or I can't -- I'm not going to be calling you that in public anymore. Judge, you are the very definition of what we Irish refer to as dignity. You have enormous dignity. And it communicates to people. It's contagious. And it matters. It matters a lot.

Maybe that's not surprising if you looked to who sat behind her during those hearings, her husband Dr. Patrick Jackson and his family. Patrick, stand up, man. Stand up. Talia and Leila, stand up. I know it's embarrassing the girls. I'm going to tell you what Talia said. I said to Talia, it's hard being the daughter or the son of a famous person. I said, imagine what it's like being President. And he said -- she said, she may be. I couldn't agree more. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And Ketajh, her brother, a former police officer and a veteran. Ketajh, stand up, man. This a man who looks like he can still play, buddy. He's got biceps about as big as my calves. Thank you, bud. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And, of course, her parents, Johnny and Ellery Brown. Johnny and Ellery, stand up. I tell you what, as I told mom, moms rule in my house. No, you think I'm kidding. I'm not. My mom and my wife as well.

Look, people of deep faith, with a deep love of family and country, that's what you represent, who know firsthand, mom and dad, the indignity of Jim Crow, the inhumanity of legal segregation, and you had overcome so much in your own lives.

You saw the strength of parents in the strength of their daughter that is just worth celebrating. I can't get over, mom and dad, you know, I mean, what you did, and your faith, and never giving up any hope. And both that wonderful son you have and your daughter.

You know, and that strength lifted up millions of Americans who watched you, Judge Jackson, especially women and women of color who have had to run the gauntlet in their own lives. So many of my Cabinet members are women, women of color, women that represent every sector of the community and it matters. And you stood up for them as well. They know it, everybody out there, every woman out there, everyone, am I correct? Just like they have. Just like they have.

And same with the women members of Congress, as well, across the board.

Look, it's a powerful thing when people can see themselves in others. Think about that. What's the most powerful thing, I'll bet every one of you can go back and think of a time in your life where there was a teacher, a family member, a neighbor, somebody, somebody who made you believe that you could be whatever you wanted to be. It's a powerful, powerful, powerful notion.

And that's one of the reasons I believed so strongly that we needed a Court that looks like America. Not just the Supreme Court. That's why I'm proud to say, with the great help of Dick Durbin, I've nominated more Black women judges to the federal appeal courts than all previous presidents combined, combined.

And that's why I'm proud that Kamala Harris is our Vice President of the United States. A brilliant lawyer, the Attorney General of the State of California, former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kamala was invaluable during this entire process.


And, Chuck, our Majority Leader, I want to thank you, pal. You did a masterful job in keeping the caucus together, getting this vote across the finish line in a timely and historic manner. Just watching it on television yesterday, watching when the vote was taken and the Democratic side, they're brave people, there was such enthusiasm, genuine. You can tell when it's real. You can tell when it's real. You did an incredible job, Chuck. Thank you so much.

Folks, because you're all able to sit down and don't have to stand, I'm going to go on a little longer here and tell you I want to say something about Dick Durbin again. Dick, I'm telling you, overseeing the hearing, how you executed the strategy by the hour, every day, to keep the committee together. And you have a very divided committee with some of the most conservative members of the Senate on that committee. It was especially difficult with an evenly divided Senate.

Dick, I served as chairman of that committee for a number of years before I had this job and the job of Vice President. As did all the Democrats, you did an outstanding -- I think all the Democrats in the committee did and every Democrat in the Senate, all of whom voted for Judge Jackson.

And notwithstanding the harassment and attacks in the hearings, I always believed that a bipartisan vote was possible. And I hope I don't get him in trouble, I mean it sincerely but I want to thank three Republicans who voted for Judge Jackson. Senators Collins, who's a woman of integrity. Senator Murkowski, the same way, in Alaska and up for reelection. And Mitt Romney, whose dad stood up like he did. His dad stood up and made these decisions on civil rights.

They deserve enormous credit for setting aside partisanship and making a carefully considered judgment based on the Judge's character, qualifications, and independence. And I truly admire the respect, diligence, and hard work they demonstrated in the course of the process.

As someone who has overseen, they tell me, more Supreme Court nominations than anyone who's alive today, I believe that respect for the process is important. And that's why it was so important to me to meet the constitutional requirement to seek the advice and the consent of the Senate, the advice beforehand and the consent.

Judge Jackson started the nominating process with an impressive range of support, from the FOP to civil rights leaders, even Republican- appointed judges came forward.

In fact, Judge Jackson was introduced at the hearing by Judge Thomas Griffith, the distinguished retired judge appointed by George W. Bush. She finished the hearing with among the highest levels of support of the American people of any nomination in recent memory.

So, soon, Judge Jackson will join the United States Supreme Court. And like every justice, the decisions she makes will impact on the lives of America for a lot longer, in many cases, than any laws we all make. But the truth is, she's already impacting the lives of so many Americans.

During the hearing, Dick spoke about a custodial worker who works the night shift at the Capitol. Her name is Verona Clemmons. Verona, where are you? Stand up, Verona. I want to see you, if you don't mind.

She told him what this nomination meant to her. So he invited Ms. Clemmons to attend the hearing because she wanted to see, hear, and stand by Judge Jackson. Thank you, Verona. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

At her meeting with Judge Jackson, Senator Duckworth introduced her to 11-year-old, is it Vivian? Vivinne? Vivienne. I'm sorry, Vivienne. There -- that's her, that's your sister. He's pointing, who was so inspired by the hearing that she wants to be a Supreme Court justice when she grows up. God love you. Stand up, honey. Am I going to embarrass you if I just ask you to stand up? Come on, stand.

There's tens of thousands of Viviennes all through the entire United States. She met Judge Jackson and saw her future. Vivienne, you're here today, and thank you for coming, honey. I know I embarrassed you by introducing you, but thank you. People of every generation, of every race, of every background felt this moment, and they feel it now. They feel a sense of pride and hope, of belonging and believing, and knowing the promise of America includes everybody, all of us. And that's the American experiment.

Justice Breyer talked about it when he came to the White House in January to announce his retirement from the Court. He used to technically work with me when I was on the Judiciary Committee, and that's before he became a justice. He's a man of great integrity. We're going to miss Justice Breyer. He's a patriot, an extraordinary public service, and a great justice of the Supreme Court.


And, folks, let me close with what I've long said, America is a nation that can be defined in a single word. I was in the, excuse me, in the foothills of the Himalayas with Xi Jinping, traveling with him. And that's when I traveled 17,000 miles when I was Vice President at the time. I don't know that for a fact.

And we were sitting alone. I had an interpreter and he had an interpreter. And he looked at me. In all seriousness, he said, can you define America for me? And I said what many of you heard me say for a long time. I said, yes, I can, in one word, possibilities, possibilities. That, in America, everyone should be able to go as far as their hard work and God-given talent will take them and possibilities. We're the only ones. That's why we're viewed as the ugly Americans, we think anything is possible.

And the idea that a young girl who was dissuaded from even thinking you should apply to Harvard Law School, don't raise your hopes so high. Well, I don't know who told you that, but I'd like to go back and invite her to the Supreme Court so she can see the interior.

Look, even Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Now, folks, it's my honor and it truly is an honor, I've been looking forward to it for a while, to introduce to you the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson.

JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you, all, very much. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Mr. President. It is the greatest honor of my life to be here with you at this moment, standing before my wonderful family, many of my close friends, your distinguished staff and guests, and the American people.

Over these past few weeks, you've heard a lot from me and about me, so I hope to use this time primarily to do something that I have not had sufficient time to do, which is to extend my heartfelt thanks to the many, many people who have helped me as part of this incredible journey.

I have quite a few people to thank. And as I'm sure you can imagine, in this moment, it is hard to find the words to express the depth of my gratitude.

First, as always, I have to give thanks to God for delivering me as promised, and for sustaining me throughout this nomination and confirmation process. As I said at the outset, I have come this far by faith, and I know that I am truly blessed. To the many people who have lifted me up in prayer since the nomination, thank you. I am very grateful.

Thank you, as well, Mr. President, for believing in me and for honoring me with this extraordinary chance to serve our country.

Thank you also, Madam Vice President, for your wise counsel and steady guidance.

And thank you to the First Lady and the Second Gentleman for the care and warmth that you have shown me and my family.

I would also like to extend my thanks to each member of the Senate. You have fulfilled the important constitutional role of providing advice and consent under the leadership of Majority Leader Schumer. And I'm especially grateful for the work of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, under Chairman Durbin's skillful leadership.