Supreme court nominee Jackson faces first round of questioning
The Supreme Court's first Black female judge in the court's 233-year history will face senators for the first time Tuesday.
Ketanji Brown Jackson, the Supreme Court's first Black female judge in the court's 233-year history, will face senators for the first time Tuesday as Democrats strive for a swift confirmation of the only Black female justice in the court's 233-year history.
On Monday, the first of four days of Judiciary Committee hearings on Jackson's nomination, Jackson, a federal appeals court judge, sat and calmly listened to more than four hours of senators' opening comments. On Tuesday, when senators begin 30-minute rounds of questioning, she will reply to specific concerns raised by senators, including complaints leveled by some Republicans that she has been overly lenient in criminal sentences.
If she was to be confirmed, Jackson pledged that she would "apply the laws to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath," thanking God and professing her love for the US and its constitution.
Jackson stated that she had been deciding cases "from a neutral posture" during the 9 years she was a judge.
Democrats praised the choice of Biden, with Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin saying, “Often, you have to be the best, in some ways the bravest.”
Biden selected Jackson in February, fulfilling a campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court for the first time in American history. She would replace Judge Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement from the court in January after 28 years.
Sen. Cory Booker expressed "joy" regarding the historic nomination. Jackson would be the third Black justice, following Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, and the sixth woman on the Supreme Court.
Booker added that “when the next generation behind us looks at the highest courts in the land, this ideal will be made more real."
Although Breyer will not leave the court until after the current session in the summer, Democrats are hoping to get Jackson confirmed before Easter.
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee sought to rebut Republican criticism of Jackson's record on criminal matters as a judge and before that as a federal public defender and member of the US Sentencing Commission, an independent agency created by Congress to reduce disparities in federal prison sentences in their opening statements.
Soft on crime
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. asserted that Jackson is "not anti-law enforcement" and not "soft on crime," noting that she was no "judicial activist".
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa pledged to Republicans that tough questions would be asked about Jackson's "judicial philosophy".
Sen. Lindsey Graham observed that Democrats had rejected some previous Republican judicial candidates who were Black or Hispanic, and he said he and his Republican colleagues would not be discouraged from asking probing questions regardless of Jackson's race. "It’s about, ‘We’re all racist if we ask hard questions.’ That’s not going to fly with us," he said.
Republicans are attempting to use her candidacy to paint Democrats as "soft on crime," a recurring issue in Republican midterm election campaigns.
Sen. Josh Hawley in his opening statement alleged that research indicates Jackson has a pattern of issuing lower sentences in child pornography cases.
Former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones who is mentoring Jackson through the process said to reporters that "she will be the one to counter many of those questions."
Members of the Judiciary Committee are already aware of Jackson, who spoke before them last year after Biden appointed her to a federal appeals court in Washington. She was also reviewed by the Committee and confirmed by the Senate to serve as a district court judge under President Barack Obama, as well as on the Sentencing Commission.