The opening session of President Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing Joe Biden‘s Supreme Court nominee, it wasn’t about Jackson at all.
Instead, Senate Republicans whined about the treatment of previous nominees, going back to Robert Bork’s hearing nearly 35 years ago.
Have these Republicans forgotten that, unlike Merrick Garland, none of these candidates were denied a hearing? Or that six of the Court’s nine judges are partisan rights chosen to make their favorite legal decisions?
Her theatrics were a sign of how little Republicans have to work with to oppose Jackson. Her accusations were as varied as they were flimsy.
Jackson is a zealot, they said. It is a radical left choice. She was a public defender who – gasp – represented criminals. Senator Josh Hawley reiterated his previously disproven claims that she was a wimp towards child porn defendants.
Perhaps the lowest point came from Senator Marsha Blackburn, who ranted about everything from masks to transgender children.
The day was a reminder of how uncomfortable, partisan and unenlightening these hearings have become – and the poor quality of the senators in attendance compared to their predecessors.
If there was a pleasant surprise to report, it came in the form of forceful remarks from Thomas Griffith, a respected retired District Court judge for the District of Columbia appointed by George W. Bush.
Griffith noted that an appearance by a retired judge nominated by a president of another party shouldn’t be that unusual. That his portrayal of Jackson seemed unusual, he said, was a measure of “bipartisanship.” He added that judges should not be “partisans in robes.”
Unfortunately, Griffith’s words came at a time when the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court appears to be just that: partisans willing to twist procedural and substantive rules and tearing up decades-old precedents, all to Republicans’ advantage.
Griffith gave Jackson his full-bodied approval: She “is independent and makes judgments based on the facts and the law and not as a partisan,” he said. “She has proven that over and over again. Their rule is simple: obey the law.”
Then it was Jackson’s turn. She thanked God, her radiant family, her friends and her country. She relied on Judge Stephen Breyer, for whom she was a clerk.
It was a not-too-subtle reminder that if the Senate deemed him acceptable, there should be no reason to oppose her.
She nodded to Constance Baker Motley, the first African American woman appointed to the federal judiciary. And Jackson reiterated her “careful adherence to precedent” and acknowledged her tendency to write lengthy opinions so people know exactly her reasons for deciding a case.
(If only the right-wing Supreme Court justices felt the same way and stopped abusing the “shadow list” and issuing orders without written opinion.)
Jackson provided a succinct description of her own view of what it means to be a judge. “I’ve been a judge for almost a decade now and I take that responsibility and my duty to be independent very seriously,” she said.
“I decide cases from a neutral stance. I assess the facts and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me.”
She is so obviously qualified, so perfectly embodies the American dream, and so gifted with superior legal temperament that it’s obvious why Republicans are fighting.
They just can’t seem to find a way to put down a super qualified, charming, humble and brilliant black woman.
It doesn’t seem to occur to them that they should stop seeking the limelight (to further their presidential ambitions), ask short and sensible questions, and then vote to confirm their qualifications.
And that tells you everything you need to know about the fall of the Senate and the Supreme Court.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/judge-jackson-shows-exactly-why-she-was-nominated-41476374.html Judge Jackson shows exactly why she was nominated