US Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson set to face tough questioning

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson will face questions from senators for the first time on Tuesday as Democrats scramble to quickly confirm the only black female justice in the lawsuit’s 233-year history. court.

Jackson, a federal appeals court judge, sat and listened in silence for more than four hours to the senators’ opening statements on Monday, the first of four days of Judiciary Committee hearings on her nomination. As senators begin 30-minute grilling rounds on Tuesday, she will respond to their specific points, including accusations from some Republicans that she was too soft on criminal sentencing.

In her own 12-minute statement, Jackson did not mention specific cases, but told the committee she would “apply the laws to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, in accordance with my judicial oath.” , if it was to be confirmed.

Jackson, 51, thanked God and said he loves “our country and the Constitution.” She stressed that she had been independent, deciding cases “from a neutral position” during her nine years as a federal judge.

While Republicans promised pointed questions, Democrats praised President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee. Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said that to be first “often you have to be the best, in some ways the bravest”.

Biden chose Jackson in February, fulfilling a campaign promise to appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court for the first time in American history. She would take the seat of Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced in January that he would retire after 28 years on the court.

Democrats have the narrowest margins

Barring unexpected developments, Democrats who control the Senate by the tiniest margin hope to wrap up Jackson’s confirmation before Easter next month, though Breyer won’t leave the court until the end of the current session this summer.

Democratic leaders are hoping for some Republican support, but can back it up with the backing of only Senate Democrats 50-50, as Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a deciding vote.

In opening statements, Democrats on the Judiciary Panel sought to preemptively refute Republican criticism of Jackson’s criminal record as a judge, and before that as a federal public defender and a member of U.S. Sentencing. Commission, an independent agency created by Congress to reduce the disparity in federal prison sentences.

Jackson ‘is not anti-law enforcement’ and is not ‘soft on crime,’ Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said, noting members of Jackson’s family worked in enforcement of the law and that it enjoys the support of certain national police organizations. “Judge Jackson is not a judicial activist.”

Even though few Republicans are likely to vote for her, most GOP senators have not been aggressively critical of Jackson, whose confirmation would not change the court’s 6-3 conservative majority. Several Republicans used their time to rail against Senate Democrats instead of Jackson’s record.

Republicans are trying to use his nomination to cast Democrats as soft on crime, an emerging theme in midterm election campaigns. Biden has chosen several former public defenders for lifelong judicial positions.

With Jackson taking notes, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said in her opening statement that her research showed she had a history of handing down lighter sentences in child pornography cases, repeating comments that he had written in a Twitter thread last week.

Hawley is one of several Republicans on the committee, along with Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who are potential 2024 presidential candidates, and their aspirations could collide with other Republicans who would rather not not pursue a scorched earth approach to Jackson’s nomination.

Members of the judicial panel are already familiar with Jackson, who appeared before them last year after Biden selected her to fill a position on the federal appeals court in Washington. She was also reviewed by the committee and confirmed by the Senate as a district court judge under President Barack Obama, and to her position on the sentencing commission.