Bay Area Black attorneys react to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's historic confirmation

Cheers erupted in the Senate chambers Thursday with a standing ovation as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson became confirmed as the first Black woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

"On this vote, the ayes are 53, the nays are 47. And this nomination is confirmed," said Vice-President Kamala Harris who made the announcement.

The White House released photos showing the emotional moment for Judge Jackson as she stood with President Biden and heard the news.

"I was overwhelmed with joy, just elated," said Chambord Benton-Hayes, past president of the Black Women Lawyers of Northern California.

Benton-Hayes says what made the moment especially touching was seeing Vice-President Kamala Harris announce the vote. Vice-President Harris is herself a member of the Black Women Lawyers and an attorney who broke barriers.

"It's important that she shatter this glass ceiling for African American women, and she's showing that we deserve to be in that space and have a voice," said Benton-Hayes.

"The U.S. Supreme Court, is slowly but surely moving forward to look like America," said retired Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, who was the first black woman judge in Northern California when she was appointed to the Superior Court of Santa Clara in 1982.

Judge Cordell says Judge Jackson likely will play an important role on the Supreme Court which has a 6-3 split between conservatives and liberals.

"History shows us that as time goes on, sometimes these dissenting opinions eventually become the majority opinions," said Judge Cordell, "So I think she will be very important. She writes beautifully her positions on cases, so we'll see where it goes, but initially no I don't think you'll see an ideological shift."

Judge Jackson's confirmation showed she could appeal across political divides. Three Republican Senators, Mitt Romney (UT), Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) sided with the 50 Democrats, providing a bipartisan confirmation despite other Republicans' fierce opposition.

"I think what impressed me the most was her grace, her control, the way she kept her head up her dignity," said Brendon Woods, Alameda County's Public Defender.

Woods says he's excited to see Judge Jackson make history as the first former public defender on the highest court.

"I think a lot of people don't realize that public defenders actually enforce the Constitution. They're there to fight for people's rights, to make sure people have a right to counsel," said Woods, "Her skill set from doing that work is going to be, so I mean so valuable on the bench."

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or