Four of the justices on the nine-member court will be women once Ketanji Brown Jackson takes her seat, making it the most diverse bench in history.
Ketanji Brown Jackson has been confirmed by the Senate as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court in a milestone for the United States and a victory for President Joe Biden, who made good on a campaign promise as he seeks to infuse the federal judiciary with a broader range of backgrounds.
The vote to confirm the 51-year-old federal appellate judge on Thursday to a lifetime job on the nation's top judicial body was 53-47, with three Republicans - Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney - joining Biden's fellow Democrats.
A simple majority was needed, as Jackson overcame Republican opposition in a Supreme Court confirmation process that remains fiercely partisan.
Jackson will take the 83-year-old Breyer's place on the liberal bloc of a court with an increasingly assertive 6-3 conservative majority. Breyer is due to serve until the court's current term ends - usually in late June - and Jackson would be formally sworn in after that. Jackson served early in her career as a Supreme Court clerk for Breyer.
Four of the justices on the nine-member court will be women once Jackson takes her seat, making it the most diverse bench in history – although they all went to law school at Harvard or Yale.
Of the five men on the bench, four are white, and Clarence Thomas is African American.
Of the 115 people who have served on the Supreme Court since its 1789 founding, all but three have been white. It has had two Black justices, both men: Clarence Thomas, appointed in 1991 and still serving, and Thurgood Marshall, who retired in 1991 and died in 1993.
Current Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the only Hispanic ever to serve on it. Jackson is set to become the sixth woman justice ever.
An ‘exceptional’ justice
Presidential nominations to the Supreme Court have become a flashpoint in American politics.
The court wields great influence in shaping American policy on hot-button issues including abortion, guns, voting laws, religious liberty, the death penalty and race-based practices.
Before Jackson joins the bench, the Supreme Court is due to rule in major cases including one that could overturn the landmark 1973 decision that legalised abortion nationwide and another that could expand gun rights.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate's top Republican, criticised Jackson in the debate before the vote, calling her the choice of the "radical left" and saying her "disturbing" judicial record included injecting personal policy biases in rulings and treating convicted criminals as gently as possible in sentencing.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who became the first Black woman to hold that post after Biden selected her as his 2020 election running mate, presided over the vote.
A Harris spokesperson said the vice president believes Jackson will become an "exceptional" justice.