“Do you coddle child pornographers and are you soft on crime?”
“Do you agree with this book that babies are racist?”
“Can you provide a deﬁnition for the word ‘woman’?”
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how faithful would you say you are in terms of religion?” One that was missed: “Do you regret that you are not a white man?”
Those were some of the questions put to Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, in last week’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.
Questions about prison sentences for child pornographers ﬁtted into the otherworld belief that the Democratic Party shelters a cabal of pedophiles who prey on the young sexually, drink the blood of children, worship Satan and are scheming to destroy the U.S. It is really offensive but a poll in February found that one in four Americans believes in the phantom “Q” where the claim originated. They were the audience when Senators Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham and Josh Hawley of South Carolina made the dastardly insinuation based on seven or eight out of more than 200 sentences she imposed as a judge.
Jackson repeatedly explained that all the sentences were within her judicial discretion and were mainstream. “What I regret,” she said, “is that in the hearing about my qualiﬁcations to be a justice on the Supreme Court, we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on this small subset of my sentences.”
Patrick Yoes, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, wrote to the committee, “From our analysis of Judge Jackson’s record and some of her cases, we believe she has considered the facts and applied the law consistently and fairly on a range of issues. … There is little doubt that she has the temperament, intellect, legal experience, and family background to have earned this appointment.”
The International Organization of Police Chiefs (IOPC) noted that Jackson’s family included an uncle, Calvin Ross, a former Miami police chief, and a brother who served as a Baltimore police ofﬁcer. “Such direct familiarity with the experiences and challenges of law enforcement enriches her understanding of criminal justice issues,” the IOPC wrote.
Ann Claire Williams, chairwoman of the American Bar Association committee that makes recommendations on federal judges, told the hearing Jackson was “well qualiﬁed.” She said her team spoke to more than 250 judges and lawyers about Jackson: “Outstanding, excellent, superior, superb. Those are the comments from virtually everyone we interviewed. … The question we kept asking ourselves: How does one human being do so much so extraordinarily well?” Cruz also accused Jackson of wanting Critical Race Theory (CRT) to be taught in schools because she sits on the board of the private Georgetown Day School, where children are taught about the whole American story. He held up a copy of Ibram X. Kendi’s illustrated book “Antiracist Baby” and asked, “Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?”
Blackburn asked whether “schools should teach children that they can choose their gender,” adding, “Can you provide a deﬁnition for the word ‘woman’?” Jackson replied, “I’m not a biologist.”
Graham asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how faithful would you say you are in terms of religion?” Jackson said she is a nondenominational Protestant and explained, “I am reluctant to talk about my faith in this way just because I want to be mindful of the need for the public to have conﬁdence in my ability to separate out my personal views.”
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton suggested that Jackson was soft on terrorists because, as a public defender, she had been selected to defend a Guantanamo Bay detainee. “Do you think most detainees at Guantánamo Bay were mostly terrorists or mostly, I don’t know, innocent goat farmers?”
Jackson had been asked on a questionnaire whether she had chosen to represent the alleged terrorist or had considered resigning from her job instead. She wrote: “Under the ethics rules that apply to lawyers, an attorney has a duty to represent her clients zealously, which includes refraining from contradicting her client’s legal arguments and/or undermining her client’s interests by publicly declaring the lawyer’s own personal disagreement with the legal position or alleged behavior of her client.”
So, who exactly is the person who had to suffer these fools stoically?
Ketanji Brown Jackson, mother of two young daughters, attended Miami Palmetto High School in South Miami-Dade County and graduated from Harvard Law School. She served as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C. — an experience which no other Supreme Court justice has ever had — as well as on the U.S. Sentencing Commission. She served as a law clerk to Justice Stephen Bryer, whose seat she would ﬁll. She also had clerkships at federal district and appellate courts and was a civil lawyer at major law ﬁrms in Boston and the District of Columbia.
It took New Jersey Democratic Senator Corey Booker, the only African American member of the Judicial Committee, to inject sanity into the hearing, telling Jackson, “You faced insults here that were shocking to me.” Choking up, he told her “don’t worry, my sister. Don’t worry. God has got you. And how do I know that? Because you’re here, and I know what it’s taken for you to sit in that seat. … It’s hard for me not to look at you and not see my mom. I see my ancestors and yours.”
That was the ﬁrst time Jackson was visibly emotional, picking up a tissue and wiping tears trickling down her cheeks.
Meanwhile, Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins announced Wednesday that she will vote to conﬁrm Jackson. “In my view, the role under the Constitution assigned to the Senate is to look at the credentials, experience and qualiﬁcations of the nominee. It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the individual ideology of a senator or would vote exactly as an individual senator would want,” Collins stated. Her support means Jackson is certain to become the ﬁrst African American woman on the Supreme Court. Still, it would be a shame if other Republicans do not follow suit and make the historic moment a truly bipartisan one as it deserves to be.