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Thurgood Marshall Confirmation Vote vs. Ketanji Brown Jackson

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"When Thurgood Marshall was confirmed in 1967 to become the first black man on the Supreme Court, 16 of 22 senators from the 11 states of the old Confederacy voted no or didn't vote[.] When Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed today to become the first black woman, 18 of 22 voted no[.]"

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On April 7 2022, the Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

CNN reported on the historic confirmation:

The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday [A[ril 7 2022] in a historic vote that paves the way for her to become the first Black woman to serve on the highest court in the nation.

The tally was 53-47, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joining Democrats to vote in favor.

On that date, an Imgur user shared a screenshot of a tweet by CNN’s White House correspondent John Harwood, purportedly contrasting Jackson’s confirmation vote to that of Thurgood Marshall:

Harwood wrote:

when Thurgood Marshall was confirmed in 1967 to become the first black man on the Supreme Court, 16 of 22 senators from the 11 states of the old Confederacy voted no or didn’t vote

when Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed today to become the first black woman, 18 of 22 voted no

As noted in the tweet, Thurgood Marshall was a Supreme Court Justice, nominated and confirmed in 1967. Marshall was also the first Black judge on the Supreme Court:

In September 1961 Marshall was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by President John F. Kennedy, but opposition from Southern senators delayed his confirmation for several months. President Lyndon B. Johnson named Marshall U.S. solicitor general in July 1965 and nominated him to the Supreme Court on June 13, 1967; Marshall’s nomination was confirmed (69–11) by the U.S. Senate on August 30, 1967.

Harwood stated that “16 of 22 senators from the 11 states of the old Confederacy voted no or didn’t vote” in Marshall’s confirmation; the above-quoted excerpt indicated that Marshall was confirmed in a vote of 69 to eleven. Harwood attributed the eleven votes to senators from former Confederate states, which were:

… the states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

GovTrack.us tallied the August 30 1967 vote to confirm Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. In addition to the 69 votes in favor and eleven against, 20 senators in total did not vote.

Each state has two senators, so the eleven former Confederate states had 22 senators in total. According to the tallies, their votes were as follows:

  • Alabama: Both “Nay”;
  • Arkansas: One “Yea,” one “No Vote”;
  • Florida: One “Nay,” one “No Vote”;
  • Georgia: One “Nay,” one “No Vote”;
  • Louisiana: Both “Nay”;
  • Mississippi: One “Nay,” one “No Vote”;
  • North Carolina: One “Nay,” one “No Vote”;
  • South Carolina: Both “Nay”;
  • Tennessee: Both “Yea“;
  • Texas: Both “Yea“;
  • Virginia: One “Yea,” one “No Vote.”

In total, five of the 22 voted “Yea.” Seventeen (not 16) senators voted “Nay” or abstained from the vote.

On Senate.gov, vote totals for the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court were available; 53 senators voted in favor, while 47 voted against her confirmation. With respect to former Confederate states, the vote total was as follows:

  • Alabama: Both “Nay”;
  • Arkansas: Both “Nay”;
  • Florida: Both “Nay”;
  • Georgia: Both “Yea“;
  • Louisiana: Both “Nay”;
  • Mississippi: Both “Nay”;
  • North Carolina: Both “Nay”;
  • South Carolina: Both “Nay”;
  • Tennessee: Both “Nay”;
  • Texas: Both “Nay”;
  • Virginia: Both “Yea.

Of the 22 senators, 18 voted “Nay,” and four voted “Yea.” Of those four votes, two came from Georgia, and two from Virginia.

A viral tweet claimed that “when Thurgood Marshall was confirmed in 1967 to become the first black man on the Supreme Court, 16 of 22 senators from the 11 states of the old Confederacy voted no or didn’t vote,” whereas 18 of the 22 senators from the same eleven states “voted no.” By our count, 17 of the 22 voted “Nay” or didn’t vote for Marshall’s 1967 confirmation; six of the 22 abstained (“No Vote.”) On April 7 2022, 22 senators from the same eleven states voted on Brown Jackson’s confirmation, with 18 voting “Nay” and four voting “Yea.” Broadly the claim was accurate, but our count for the 1967 vote differed by one additional “Nay.”