No one I remember exemplified better than US Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson the intellectual rigor, basic decency, and phenomenal temperament we hope to see in our judiciary.
Even if the Republican attack dogs had stuck to substantive issues relevant to her appointment and allowed her to complete her answers, Jackson would have impressed at her confirmation hearings last week.
She managed to answer questions more fully than the three most recent nominees, and even vowed to withdraw from a case involving Harvard University’s admissions policies, for which she serves on the school’s board of overseers.
She seemed practically holy compared to the belligerent, off-kilter interrogators, who would interrupt at will. At several points, her questioners pretended that their answers were nonsensical.
Senator Lindsey Graham pretended not to understand that her work on an amicus brief while working in a private law firm represented not her views but those of her clients. Senator Tom Cotton pretended to speak a foreign language when explaining that in relation to a drug case she was reviewing as a federal judge, she couldn’t hear a heroin dealer’s victims because there were no identifiable victims.
Other Republicans could not understand – or pretended not to understand – Jackson’s repeated declaration that her use of the term “war crimes” in a brief she wrote while representing a detainee at Guantanamo Bay did not mean that she President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense accused Donald Rumsfeld of being a war criminal.
If anything, these attacks increased Jackson’s appeal. As Maya D. Wiley, the new executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told me, “People watching Justice Brown Jackson’s calm, collected, and courageous demeanor in this otherwise difficult and troubling confirmation hearing simply want more than only on the Supreme Court they did it before.”
She added, “She was merciless under fire and failed to take the bait on personal attacks.”
It was hard to imagine why Democrats sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee — with the exception of the inspirational Senator Cory Booker – only commented on the ridiculous questions at press conferences after Jackson testified or at the beginning of the fourth day of the trial.
Senator Richard J Durbinthe committee’s chairman, belatedly described them as “unfair, inexorable and beneath the dignity of the United States Senate”.
Why didn’t they answer the questions in real time? Are they so attached to their scripts that they don’t listen to what’s going on around them? Are they so plagued by fake Senate decor that they don’t dare interrupt Republicans who keep interrupting the candidate?
Perhaps the Democrats thought Jackson was a scavenger, so they could just leave her to the wolves and allow a group of mostly white men to show contempt and disrespect for the historic nominee. Or maybe they didn’t want her to look like she needed “help.” Whatever their justification, the result was a grotesque display of disrespect.
As Wiley said, the hearings reiterated “how far we have strayed from basic democratic norms and basic decency.” As she put it, Jackson’s “outstanding” credentials and temperament don’t matter to her attackers. “This isn’t about that judge,” Wiley said. “This is about power and our politics. Too many use misinformation and disinformation for political progress.”
She added, “Fostering racial fears and persistent sexism has become a form of political currency for some Republican senators, and too many others are not calling it out.” Jackson’s nomination may have been the focus of the hearings, but the real issue, argued Wiley, was “about whether what we roughly call Trumpism is so ingrained that truth, decency and any celebration of diversity are life-sustaining.”
To borrow a phrase from Booker’s sermon during the hearings, not even Republicans vying to be the most offensive contender by 2024 can rob Jackson and the millions of Americans who cheer them on of the “joy” of the moment. For her career, example and success in running the gauntlet, well done to the soon-to-be Justice Jackson.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/supreme-court-nominee-ketanji-brown-jackson-stays-calm-and-courageous-in-face-of-unfair-barrage-41492831.html Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson remains calm and brave in the face of unfair barrage