Confirmation hearings are set begin for President Biden's choice for the highest US court - Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

If confirmed, Harvard-educated Jackson will replace retiring liberal justice, 83-year-old Stephen Breyer.
If confirmed, Harvard-educated Jackson will replace retiring liberal justice, 83-year-old Stephen Breyer. (AFP)

The US Senate will take up the historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is to hold four days of confirmation hearings beginning on Monday for President Joe Biden's choice for the highest US court.

Jackson, a 51-year-old Harvard-educated jurist who once served as a federal public defender for indigent clients, has been nominated to replace another liberal justice, 83-year-old Stephen Breyer, who is retiring.

Her confirmation will not ultimately change the composition of the court, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

"The conservatives still have a 6-3 majority," he said. "That alone lowers the stakes and should make for a smoother confirmation."

The 100-member Senate is evenly split 50-50 Between Democrats and Republicans and Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.

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Partisan battleground

Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominees have become an acrimonious partisan battleground over the past few years between Republicans and Democrats.

Every court appointment is significant since many critical matters are decided there, Sabato explained.

"Plus, many of these matters are hot-button social issues that move votes or motivate voters" such as abortion or gun rights, Sabato added.

"Inevitably," Sabato said, "a few Republican senators will go after Jackson on a wide variety of topics."

Although a frontal attack on Jackson could potentially backfire against Republicans seven months ahead of the midterm congressional elections, Senator Josh Hawley, a conservative from Missouri, has been laying the groundwork.

"I've noticed an alarming pattern when it comes to Judge Jackson's treatment of sex offenders, especially those preying on children," Hawley said in a series of tweets. "This is a disturbing record."

Hawley's comments drew a rebuke from White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates who said the information presented takes Jackson’s record out of context.

If confirmed, Jackson will be the third African-American to serve on the Supreme Court but the first Black woman.

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Source: AFP