Kamala Harris, the first female, Black, and Asian American vice president-elect, will be sworn in by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice

kamala harris
Harris is the first female, Black, and Asian American vice president-elect in United States history.

  • In a historic ceremony, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in on Wednesday by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Harris is the first female, Black, and Asian American vice president-elect in United States history. Sotomayor is the first Latina justice to sit on the Supreme Court.
  • When asked about being sworn in outside the US Capitol following the deadly siege on the building, Harris said “we cannot yield those who would try and make us afraid of who we are.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In a historic ceremony, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in on Wednesday by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, ABC News first reported.

Harris is the first female, Black, and Asian American vice president-elect in United States history. Sotomayor is the first Latina justice to sit on the Supreme Court.

Harris, who is also Indian American, made history when she and President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in the fall. Civil-rights advocates celebrated her win, saying it would positively affect policy in the Biden administration and inspire young Americans of different backgrounds.

“Bringing Black and South Asian representation to the table, her lived experiences as a woman of color and a daughter of immigrants will offer a point of view in the White House the likes of which this country has never seen,” Christian Nunes, the president of the National Organization for Women, told Insider’s Eliza Relman at the time.

Read more: Kamala Harris is staffing up with veteran Washington insiders in advance of being sworn in as the country’s first woman vice president. Meet her first White House hires.

A source told ABC the vice president-elect is inspired by Sotomayor. In 2019, Harris praised Sotomayor in a tweet sent during Hispanic Heritage month.

“Judge Sonia Sotomayor has fought for the voices of the people ever since her first case voting against corporations in Citizens United. As a critical voice on the bench, she’s showing all our children what’s possible,” Harris said.

Sotomayor joined the Supreme Court in 2009 after being nominated by former President Barack Obama, who also made history as the country’s first Black president. Sotomayor is the first woman of color and first Hispanic person to sit on the bench.

The swearing in ceremony for Harris is set for Inauguration Day, January 20, when Biden will also be sworn in as America’s 46th president.

Following the violent attack on the US Capitol on January 6, security efforts have been heightened for the inauguration.

On Saturday, when asked about being sworn in outside the Capitol, Harris said “we cannot yield those who would try and make us afraid of who we are.”

And in another historic first, Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, will become the nation’s first second gentleman.

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Federal government executes Dustin Higgs, the 13th person to be killed since July. Justice Sonia Sotomayor writes scathing dissent: ‘This is not justice.’

supreme court
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan look on as U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress on February 28, 2017 in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Trump’s first address to Congress focused on national security, tax and regulatory reform, the economy, and healthcare.

  • Late Friday, the Supreme Court voted to move forward with the execution of Dustin Higgs, who became the thirteenth person to be killed by the federal government since July.
  • Justice Sonia Sotomayor has consistently dissented against the accelerated push for federal executions at the direction of the Justice Department and wrote a scathing dissent breaking down the concerted strategy to rush executions.
  • “The Court made these weighty decisions in response to emergency applications, with little opportunity for proper briefing and consideration, often in just a few short days or even hours,” Sotomayor said. “Very few of these decisions offered any public explanation for their rationale. This is not justice.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Supreme Court executed Dustin Higgs late Friday, making Higgs the thirteenth person to be killed by the federal government since July.

Higgs, who had contracted COVID-19 in prison, was sentenced to death row in 2001. A petition to stop Higg’s execution amassed more than 1.5 million signatures ahead of Friday. 

In July, the US Department of Justice ended a 17-year pause on federal executions, at Attorney General William Barr’s direction. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has consistently dissented against the Trump administration’s fast-tracked executions of each individual.

In her latest dissent, Sotomayor described the recent surge in federal executions and the human toll behind it. Justices Breyer and Kagan joined Sotomayor in dissenting.

“After seventeen years without a single federal execution, the Government has executed twelve people since July,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.

“They are Daniel Lee, Wesley Purkey, Dustin Honken, Lezmond Mitchell, Keith Nelson, William LeCroy Jr., Christopher Vialva, Orlando Hall, Brandon Bernard, Alfred Bourgeois, Lisa Montgomery, and, just last night, Corey Johnson,” Sotomayor wrote. “Today, Dustin Higgs will become the thirteenth.”

Sotomayor placed her remarks in a historical context, saying that at the federal level, the US “will have executed more than three times as many people in the last six months than it had in the previous six decades.”

Read more: An inmate who is scheduled to be executed just 5 days before Biden takes office tested positive for COVID-19

Describing the 2019 protocol by the Justice Department, which enabled the federal government to move forward with executions using a new drug, Sotomayor argued that, “throughout this expedited spree of executions, this Court has consistently rejected inmates’ credible claims for relief.”

“The Court made these weighty decisions in response to emergency applications, with little opportunity for proper briefing and consideration, often in just a few short days or even hours,” Sotomayor said. “Very few of these decisions offered any public explanation for their rationale.”

“This is not justice.”

She mentioned the efforts of the Trump administration, lower level courts and the Supreme Court to speed up the federal executions. Sotomayor criticized her colleagues who have moved forward the executions, saying “this Court has repeatedly sidestepped its usual deliberative processes, often at the Government’s request, allowing it to push forward with an unprecedented, breakneck timetable of executions.”

Sotomayor also condemned the federal government for fast-tracking the executions of two men who tested positive for COVID-19 – Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs – by arguing that a sooner execution would put the inmates out of their potential misery. Sotomayor dissented against the federal execution of Johnson a day earlier on January 14 because he was intellectually disabled and not afforded judicial review. 

Six of the 13 inmates killed since July have been Black, and a Death Penalty Information Center report from September 2020 showed that Black Americans are almost 30 times more likely to face the death penalty for the murder of a white victim than the other way around. 

“Those whom the Government executed during this endeavor deserved more from this Court,” Sotomayor said. “I respectfully dissent.”

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