(The Hill) – Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wrapped up with GOP senators for about 13 hours Tuesday on the first day of questioning in her Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Republicans are not expected to be able to lower Jackson’s nomination unless she makes a significant unforeseen mistake during Senate Judiciary hearings – something that did not appear to happen Tuesday, even as GOP senators launched a series of attacks.
Jackson will appear before the committee again on Wednesday. Sens. Thom Tillis (RN.C.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) Will kick off the hearing, and all senators will have a chance to question her for the second time.
Here are the top five takeaways from Jackson’s first day of answering questions.
Jackson was ready for the GOP’s question
Jackson attacked early in the hearing, using questions from Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) To tackle the enlargement of the Supreme Court, her decisions on sex-related cases and her work on behalf of Guantánamo Bay prisoners or outside groups.
The effort seemed to aim at rejecting some of the main lines of criticism that Republicans raised through the first day of questions, giving Jackson a first word before facing questions from more conflicting GOP senators.
It also happened after Jackson sat for more than four hours on Monday listening to GOP senators, most if not all of whom will oppose her, previewing their case against her and their complaints with recent court battles.
There were tense moments between GOP senators and Jackson as well as between committee members.
And in some cases, Jackson refused to lean into the Republican question line, including when Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) Tried to get her to consider rape, murder, crime, and if the country needed more law enforcement. officials.
“It’s not because it’s difficult questions. It’s that they are not questions for me. I’m not Congress,” Jackson said.
Durbin also stepped in to help at times after senators finished questioning Jackson and ended the hearing Tuesday to respond to GOP allegations that were “inaccurate.”
Jackson says her legal methodology defies light etiquette
Jackson’s description of her approach was largely a recitation of steps she follows, and a sense of their relative weight in her predominant process, but revealed little in the way of an overall philosophy.
Jackson backed away from “a particular brand” to define her style, saying she goes for a method that begins with taking a neutral position, continues with various tools toward a transparent decision “without fear or favor” and diligently comply with legal restrictions.
Jackson placed particular emphasis on the primacy of the text of the law. She also acknowledged that the 6-3 Conservative Supreme Court has increasingly embraced “the originalist perspective in its interpretations” and allowed her to agree with its principle that “the Constitution is firm in its meaning.”
But Jackson also noted the limits of such an approach, pointing to legal concepts such as “unfair search and seizure” and “fair trial” as examples of when the meaning of a law is difficult to determine from text alone.
“When you look at them in the context of history, you look at the structure of the Constitution, you look at the circumstances that you have to deal with in relation to what these words meant at the time they were adopted, and you looking at precedents related to this topic – all the tools judges use and I have used, “she said.
Contrary to the recent Supreme Court confirmation, where Judge Amy Coney Barrett embraced the identity of an originalist in the form of the late Conservative Judge Antonin Scalia, Jackson offered little help to senators in the hunt for worn-out legal descriptors.
“If you were to tell the American people who you’re closest to, who’s that justice?” asked Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).
Jackson replied, “I must admit that I do not really have a justice that I have shaped myself after.”
Graham highlights the GOP’s anger over previous court battles
Late. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) leaned into a lingering anger from Republican senators over past court battles, arguing that there is a double standard between the treatment of Republican nominees and those nominated by Democratic presidents.
Graham went on a vote-winner that touched on several GOP hotspots, including previous questions about Barrett’s beliefs and the Bush-era judicial nomination battles.
“The reason I take all this up is because it gives me a chance to commemorate this committee [that] in America there are two standards going on here. If you’re an African American, conservative woman, you’re fair game to get your life turned upside down, to be filibustered no matter how qualified you are, and if you express your beliefs as a conservative, all of a sudden, ‘is a fucking nut, said Graham.
Republicans have repeatedly pointed back to Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 Supreme Court nomination, which was thrown into chaos after decades-old allegations of sexual assault surfaced, which he denied.
Graham is one of three GOP senators who last year voted for Jackson to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. But he has increasingly signaled that he is likely a no to Jackson’s nomination for the Supreme Court seat.
His opposition can not lower Jackson’s nomination, but it can only guarantee that Jackson will face a draw committee vote on her nomination. Democrats could still bring her up for a Senate vote, but that would eat up extra time.
2024 GOP White House hopeful jockey for attention
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) And Cotton left little doubt that they are looking at the presidential candidates in 2024 after aggressively asking Jackson about critical race theory, child pornography convictions and rising crime.
Each senator focused on a topic that would likely score points with the GOP’s base and did so with a dramatic flair that would likely get some attention in conservative media.
Cruz grilled Jackson about her views on critical race theory and challenged her to a speech she gave at the University of Michigan, where she spoke about The New York Times’ controversial 1619 project as well as comments she made at the University of Chicago about how legal work works. on sentencing marries the law and critical race theory.
Hawley dived into Jackson’s handling of a child pornography case in the United States against Hawkins, in which she sentenced an 18-year-old defendant to three months in prison after federal prosecutors asked for two years in prison.
“I just have to tell you, I’m having a hard time putting my head on it,” he said.
The tension back and forth between Hawley and Jackson was one of the hearing’s most dramatic moments.
Cotton spent part of her time questioning her decision to reduce the sentence for a man originally sentenced to 20 years for drug trafficking and firearms.
Jackson said she was given the flexibility to revise the sentence under the First Step Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law, reducing the jail time for nonviolent drug offenders. Cotton was against the bill.
However, Cotton said to the nominee with a glance: “You distorted the law and you rewrote it so you could cut the sentence over a drug lord. That was what you did, judge.”
Jackson keeps the nomination on track
Jackson avoided the kind of big mistake that would throw her nomination into limbo.
GOP senators in the committee pressured Jackson on a host of hot-button issues, including those that light up the party’s base, such as critical race theory, her decisions in child pornography cases, and violent crime.
Jackson, however, kept her cool in the 13-hour hearing Tuesday. And her patience gained attention on social media during an exchange with Cruz, who asked her about “Antiracist Baby,” which claims that babies are taught to be racist or anti-racist, and that there is no neutrality, being taught on Washington Day School where Jackson is on the board.
When Cruz asked Jackson if he agreed that this book was taught, Jackson took a long break before answering.
“I have not reviewed any of those books, any of those ideas,” Jackson said. “They do not come up in my work as a judge, which I am here with respect to address.”
Republicans sometimes acknowledged that their hour-long grilling would not ultimately change the outcome of Jackson’s nomination.
Sasse began his question by remarking to Jackson that the hearing “is very likely the last job interview you will ever get.”
Senate Democrats want to confirm Jackson before the chamber begins a two-week hiatus scheduled to begin on April 8. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) said Tuesday that he had “confidence that she is on track for final confirmation before the end of this term.”
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