Key Point: “For a certain kind of Republican, the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have represented an opportunity, evidently. An opportunity to grandstand, to fearmonger, to fundraise and to chase those sweet, sweet retweets.”
Houston Chronicle: Sorry, Ted. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson weathered storm of inane questions, insinuations from GOP
By Erica Grieder, Commentary
March 24, 2022
Maybe Ted Cruz should have stayed in Montana this week.
Our junior senator was photographed kicking up a fuss at the Bozeman airport last weekend after being told he would miss his flight, and now we know why he was in such a rush to return to Washington, D.C.
For a certain kind of Republican, the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson have represented an opportunity, evidently. An opportunity to grandstand, to fearmonger, to fundraise and to chase those sweet, sweet retweets.
Cruz shouted, at one point. He insinuated that Brown — a 51-year-old federal appeals court judge and mother of two — is soft on crime, including child pornography. He interrogated her at length about a book called “Antiracist Baby,” by Ibram X. Kendi, that he says is used at a private school where she is a board member. He asked her to define “woman,” and although she handled the question beautifully, he declared himself displeased.
His mild-mannered colleague Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, eventually advised Brown that there might be no point in trying to respond to Cruz’s questions.
“He’s going to interrupt you,” Durbin observed.
Jackson, for her part, was flawless under the barrage of inane questions and insinuations. Her GOP critics were left with nothing to decry, after three very long days of questioning. But did she have any other option, really? From the moment President Joe Biden announced her nomination, many Republicans in the Senate began scrounging around for reasons to oppose her candidacy.
They shouldn’t. Jackson is “eminently qualified” for the high court, argued conservative Judge Michael Luttig, a mentor of Cruz’s, in a statement on Jackson’s nomination.
“Indeed, she is as highly credentialed and experienced in the law as any nominee in history, having graduated from the Harvard Law School with honors, clerked at the Supreme Court, and served as a Federal Judge for almost a decade,” he wrote.
Some conservatives, after watching the hearings, also had the sense that Jackson is the best nominee they could hope for from a Democratic president. Jackson is considered likely to be one of the court’s three liberals; she described Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to an abortion, as “settled law,” during the hearings. But she also began the week “sounding almost like a conservative’s dream nominee,” as Quinn Hilyer of the right-leaning Washington Examiner put it, noting her support for originalist and textualist approaches to the Constitution and her references to the “greatness” of this nation.
In a sane world — or one in which Republicans want to appear — Jackson’s confirmation hearings would have been a time for them to show off the better angels of their nature. They could have spoken about their respect for Jackson’s achievements, and the historic nature of her confirmation, even if they disagree with her jurisprudence occasionally.
But those better angels, if they exist, are in abeyance these days.
It was left to Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey to speak with emotion of the adversity that Black women such as Jackson have long faced. “You have earned this spot. You are worthy. You are a great American,” he said to the nominee, who dabbed away tears.
“This is a moment that all Americans should be proud,” Jackson herself had said, reflecting that she stands “on the shoulders of generations past who never had anything close to this opportunity, who were the first and the only in a lot of different fields.”
Jackson deserves confirmation — and a vacation, after sitting through the Republicans’ sideshow.