It might be the most important day of hearings of all for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as she takes questions from senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
After opening questions from chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), attention turned to the 22 members of the panel, as each is permitted up to 30 minutes to query Jackson.
Facing Republican senators’ pointed questions, Jackson, 51, forcefully defended her record as a federal judge Tuesday and declared she will rule “from a position of neutrality” if confirmed to the high court.
Responding to queries that she is too liberal in her judicial philosophy, she said she tries to “understand what the people who created this law intended.” Jackson also pushed back strongly against suggestions that she has given light sentences to child pornographers.
PoliticsPA asked four candidates for Pennsylvania office about their thoughts on the judge and the potential history of her becoming the first Black woman on the high court.
“The nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson fulfills President Biden’s promise to appoint an eminently qualified Black woman to the Supreme Court,” said Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia). “These hearings should remind senators, who have confirmed her three times for other federal positions, just how qualified she is.”
“Having a diversity of backgrounds and life experiences on our courts is important,” he continued. “I cannot wait to see her sworn in as America’s first Black female justice of the highest court in the land!”
Conservative political commentator Kathy Barnette, running for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, said “I believe there is something deeply offensive about President Biden’s approach. Only looking at a Black woman for the bench, he seems more interested in making history rather than picking a qualified candidate.”
“(Brown Jackson) is indisputably a highly qualified candidate and well-regarded as a Judge. I’m concerned she will be a friend to abortionists, a friend to criminals and her activism is no secret and gives me great pause,” she continued. “At this moment, we have some important decisions to make in this country and deciding who we are. We need people to not be so emotional, as difficult as it is, and to be more cerebral and thoughtful.”
Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Malcolm Kenyatta, tweeted about Brown Jackson that “She was a clerk for Justice Beyer and a long time public defender. Her intellect, integrity, and compassion are beyond reproach. She deserves to be on the Supreme Court and our country will be better for it.”
Jerry Dickinson, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in the 17th District, is a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. “I’ve been impressed with Ketanji Brown Jackson since she was nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court,” he said. “I’ve read and taught many law students her judicial opinions”
“I believe she is eminently qualified for the position for many reasons. She has a wonderful judicial temperament and approaches cases with impartiality and evenhandedness. Likewise, her extensive experience on the federal bench and her illustrious career as a lawyer has greatly influenced her mastery of the law. As a father of two Black daughters, Judge Brown Jackson’s elevation to the Supreme Court will be historic and positively impact future generations of Black and Brown children to one day aspire for careers as lawyers and judges.”
The Harvard-educated lawyer is in line to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, one of her mentors. Democrats have the potential votes in the 50-50 Senate to confirm Jackson, even if all Republicans oppose her nomination. A vote is on track by mid-April.