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Black women attorneys thought they’d ‘never see’ themselves on the Supreme Court. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation is a win for them.

April 8, 2022, 1:08 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! COVID cancels a controversial trip for Nancy Pelosi, Marine Le Pen surges in France’s presidential election, and Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has a nice ring to it. Have a relaxing weekend.

– History in the making. Danielle Conley spent yesterday on “cloud 27.” The deputy counsel to the President has spent the past several weeks shepherding Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson through the arduous Supreme Court confirmation process. On Thursday, she could hardly believe that her hard work had paid off when the Senate voted 53-47 to confirm Jackson as the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court.

“The Black women in the White House right now—we have just been smiles all day,” Conley told me yesterday, about an hour after Vice President Kamala Harris finished presiding over the Senate vote. “This is one of those moments that feels like a dream.”

Conley is one of the many Black American women who saw in yesterday’s confirmation the appointment of a supremely qualified jurist and a long-overdue milestone they thought would never arrive. “I’m a lawyer, so I’m always going to have a healthy dose of skepticism,” says Conley, who oversees much of the Biden administration’s work diversifying the federal bench. “I didn’t really think I’d see a Black woman get confirmed to the Supreme Court in my lifetime.”

And yet, she did. Three Republican senators joined all 50 Democrats to put Jackson, a 51-year-old former federal public defender and a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on the bench. Her appointment is especially sweet against the backdrop of grueling confirmation hearings that gripped the nation last month.

“It is exciting, it is joyful, and nothing they [Republicans] did over the last month can take that away,” says National Women’s Law Center president Fatima Goss Graves.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Ketanji Brown Jackson, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court nominee
President Joe Biden and Ketanji Brown Jackson, Supreme Court nominee, watch the results of her Senate vote nomination.
Joshua Roberts—Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jackson will be sworn in and join the bench after Justice Stephen Breyer finishes the court’s docket this summer, meaning her work as a justice may not begin until October. She will not be on the court for some of its most anticipated decisions in just a few months, including the decision on Mississippi’s abortion law that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

Still, Jackson’s absence highlights the necessity of her appointment, Goss Graves says. “There are no Black women on the court or arguing the case,” she points out. “The only Black women involved are the ones that are going to be deeply affected by the decision.”

Later this year, that will no longer be the case—a feat former First Lady Michelle Obama praised in a Thursday Instagram post. “Like so many of you, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride—a sense of joy—to know that this deserving, accomplished Black woman will help chart our nation’s course,” she wrote.

Jackson will be the first and only Black woman and one of a record four women to sit together on the Supreme Court bench. And still, there’s a ways to go. Take the vote itself: while Harris presided over the proceedings, there were no Black women among the 100 senators who cast their votes.

As for Jackson? “I have not seen her yet today,” Conley told me, “but I imagine she’s very, very happy.”

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Out sick. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was scheduled to lead a congressional delegation to Asia. The trip would have been the first by a house speaker to Taiwan in more than 20 years—and sure to anger China. But Pelosi tested positive for COVID on Thursday, and the travel will be rescheduled. She is not showing any symptoms, her staff says. 

- Third time's the charm? Far-right politician Marine Le Pen is surging in France's presidential election. Le Pen has taken a more personal approach to the campaign trail her third time around. Coupled with the new perspective voters have of her, and what's expected to be a low turnout among President Emmanuel Macron's base, Le Pen has a chance of winning. France's leadership will be especially important in Europe as the region navigates the war in Ukraine. The election begins Sunday. New York Times

- Decision-readyMichigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit Thursday to overturn the state's 91-year-old abortion ban. The governor joins a growing caucus of states preparing for an imminent Supreme Court decision this summer that could overturn or dramatically undercut Roe v. Wade.  Michigan's abortion ban is currently unenforceable thanks to the 1973 Roe decision, but a Supreme Court repeal of the landmark abortion case would allow pre-Roe bans in many states to go back into effect. Politico

- Tech exit. Richard Liu, the founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce company JD.com, will step down from his role, joining several tech entrepreneurs who have relinquished control of their companies as Beijing increases regulatory scrutiny. In 2018, University of Michigan student Liu Jingyao (no relation) accused Liu of raping her during a visit to the university. Liu denied the allegation and prosecutors declined to charge him. Liu’s departure from JD.com does not appear to be related to the 2018 allegation, though he previously stepped down from other JD.com subsidiaries following Jingyao's accusation.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar has joined the board of directors at ConsenSys. Former Cosmopolitan editor Joanna Coles, who has a new career working with SPACs, will join the board of hardware rental startup Grover. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Veto power. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is the latest governor to veto a state bill that would bar transgender women and girls from participating in school sports. Beshear is a Democrat, and his state's GOP-controlled legislature is likely to override his veto. Last month, Utah's GOP Gov. Spencer Cox vetoed a similar bill. "Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few," he said at the time. CNN

- HQ amenities. Walmart's new Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters will feature a 73,000-square-foot on-site childcare center. The facility will be able to host up to 500 children from six weeks old through pre-K, with the possibility to welcome school-age children after school and during the summer. The cost to parents—who will mostly be Walmart corporate employees—hasn't been announced. Axios

- Footing the bill. Federal law requires states to bear the full out-of-pocket cost for forensic exam services for sexual assault victims in order to receive certain federal funds. But due to a nationwide shortage of specially trained and trauma-informed examiners, and varying state laws, many victims are receiving bills for these services, which cost $347 on average. Even if victims are later reimbursed, states that allow hospitals to charge patients are still violating the requirements the Justice Department set in place. The 19th

ON MY RADAR

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Margo Jefferson makes her way Vulture

Republicans thought defining a 'woman' is easy. Then they tried Washington Post

Dancers in a sexual abuse lawsuit speak out together for the first time Cosmopolitan

PARTING WORDS

"I needed to show how [Elizabeth Holmes] used being a woman to manipulate people. That’s what makes the story complicated, especially around gender."

- The Dropout showrunner Elizabeth Meriwether on how she approached actor Amanda Seyfried's portrayal of Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes in the series. 

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