Supreme Court confirmation: Jackson questioned on sentencing, Roe v. Wade, Guantanamo

Day two of Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearings is now in the books. Here are five takeaways:

Day with few surprises as Jackson bypassed many questions

Judge Jackson, facing questions for the first time, said little about the hot-button issues of the day, refusing to give his views on abortion, court-martial law and same-sex marriage.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle tried to persuade Judge Jackson whether she believes Roe v. Wade was right in deciding whether politicians in Washington should extend the Supreme Court with additional judges, and whether the district court was right in recognizing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right. Judge Jackson repeatedly postponed the authority of the existing Supreme Court case and Congress and offered few clues as to how she would address divisive issues.

Jackson’s nomination is still on track, with no future twists

Judge Jackson came to Tuesday’s hearing on his way to becoming the next Supreme Court judge, with Democrats having the votes to confirm her as long as their caucus remains united. Judge Jackson has already been confirmed by the Senate three times, and Republicans revealed little information about her record that was not already known. Senators generally took a restrained approach to questioning, and Judge Jackson rarely seemed visibly confused, even by more contentious issues on topics such as child pornography and race.

Get excited moments

Many Republicans only gently pushed Judge Jackson in their questions, saving their harshest words for Democratic lawmakers. GOP senators praised the nominee’s intelligence, drive and performance, while arguing that Democrats abused former Republican judge candidates such as Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, both of whom were confirmed in the Supreme Court.

There were exceptions, most notably GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who participated in a heated discussion with Judge Jackson on race issues. He pressured Judge Jackson on critical race theory, a controversial academic concept that claims that the legacy of white supremacy remains embedded in modern society. Mr. Cruz quoted an earlier speech in which she briefly mentioned critical race theory and said it was taught by a private school where she sits on the board. Judge Jackson withdrew sharply on some of Mr Cruz’s questions.

“I do not mean that every child should be made to feel as if they are racist, or even if they are not valued, or even if they are less than,” she said.

Punished a main theme

Republicans focused their sharpest questions on Judge Jackson’s sentencing in child pornography and drug cases, as well as her work defending terrorist detainees held in Guantanamo Bay.

The Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton tried to portray Judge Jackson as a dissident who gave some heinous criminals less jail time than they deserved. Judge Jackson and the Democrats responded that some federal sentencing guidelines are outdated and that judges regularly deviate from them depending on the facts of the case.

Late. Lindsey Graham (R., SC) suggested that some of Judge Jackson’s work on behalf of the Guantanamo detainees could have made the Americans less secure. Democrats responded that American democracy had the benefit of ensuring that even accused terrorists were represented.

Jackson says that originalism is the dominant philosophy of law

Judge Jackson distanced himself from the idea that the Constitution evolves over time, saying that interpreting constitutional provisions for their original meaning is now the dominant approach.

The judge stopped for a full-throated endorsement of constitutional originalism as favored by conservative lawyers, but she also said she did not embrace the concept of a living constitution.

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