WATCH LIVE: Historic hearings for Supreme Court nominee from Miami-Dade begin

The Senate opened the historic hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Harvard-trained lawyer from Miami-Dade County who President Joe Biden wants to see become the country’s first Black woman to serve as Supreme Court justice.

This would not shift the court’s conservative majority. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Republicans will not engage in character assassination as they scrutinize Jackson’s philosophy during this week’s hearings.

“This is not about race. It is, however, about issues of substance,” Cruz said during his opening statement.

If confirmed, Jackson would also be the third Black Supreme Court justice after Clarence Thomas and the late Thurgood Marshall. She would replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who she clerked for during the beginning of her legal career.

During their opening statements, Democrats praised Jackson’s legal career and integrity. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said the appointment of a Black woman should have happened years ago.

“We will never know in detail all of the challenges and obstacles that you have overcome to be here today … Your presence will ensure the court more fully and deeply understands,” Blumenthal said.

Sen. Chris Coon, D-Delaware, said he looks forward to meeting Jackson’s family. She and Patrick Johnson, a surgeon, have two daughters. Her brother and parents were in Capitol Hill. After Biden announced the nomination, her mother, Ellery Brown, said she was proud and grateful for the community’s support.

“Public education played such a big role, is what we feel, also because she went to public schools,” said Ellery Brown, a retired New World School of the Arts principal and former science teacher.

Jackson is Miami Palmetto Senior High School’s Class of 1998. Jackson’s uncle Calvin Ross was a former Miami police chief who headed the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

Thomas B. Griffith, a retired judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Lisa M. Fairfax, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, will introduce the 51-year-old federal judge.

Jackson, a former federal public defender, will deliver an opening statement and answer senators’ questions on Monday during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. Breyer announced a summer retirement.

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