Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson faces intense questions

During Tuesday’s hearing, Jackson addressed and disputed these criticisms by emphasizing his concern for public safety and the rule of law, both as a judge and as an American. She argued that she approaches her work impartially and that personal opinions do not matter.

When pressured by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Jackson avoided a question related to whether she supported the extension of the Supreme Court to include more than nine judges.

“It’s a political issue for Congress,” she said. “I am particularly careful not to talk about political issues because I am so committed to staying in my lane.”

READ: Ketanji Brown Jackson's opening statement at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing

Democrats have so far used the hearings to praise Brown – who would be the first black woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice – as an exceptionally qualified, groundbreaking candidate whose depth and breadth of experience, including as a federal public defender, would add a valuable and unique perspective to the bench.

The hearings began Monday with opening statements from senators in the panel and the nominee. The two-day hearing – which is expected to be the most controversial part of the public inquiry process on Capitol Hill – began Tuesday morning and will continue until Wednesday.

Jackson describes the process of ‘ruling impartially’ in the midst of GOP issues of legal philosophy

Jackson said Tuesday that she approaches her work in such a way that she ensures impartiality and does not impose personal opinions or political preferences, a claim that comes as Republican senators have expressed concern about legal activism.

“I have developed a method that I use to ensure that I rule impartially and that I adhere to the limits of my judicial authority,” Jackson said.

“When I get a case, I make sure I start from a neutral position,” she said.

“I do not import my personal views or political preferences,” she added.

Later during the hearing, Jackson said, in terms of her approach to judging, “there is no label, I think, that fits what I do and how I have approached my role.”

Asked by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham if she would say she is an activist judge, Jackson replied, “I would not say that.”

Jackson disputes allegations that she is weak in relation to crime: ‘I am deeply concerned about public safety’

Jackson said during Tuesday’s hearing: “I am deeply concerned about public safety,” referring to the fact that she has family members who have worked in law enforcement.

“I know what it’s like to have loved ones leave to protect and serve and the fear of not knowing if they will return home because of crime in the community,” she said.

“Crime and the effects on society and the need for law enforcement – these are not abstract concepts or political slogans for me,” she said.

The nominee’s insistence that she cares about public safety comes as Republicans have largely tried to portray her record as weak in terms of crime.

“As a judge, I am very much in favor of the rule of law, and I know that in order for us to have a functioning society, we need to hold people accountable for committing crimes,” she said. “We must do it justly according to our Constitution.”

Jackson discusses advocacy for Guantanamo Bay prisoners

As a public defender, Jackson represented a Guantanamo Bay prisoner, though it is her advocacy business for prisoners while working at a private company that Republicans are particularly skeptical of. The lawyer came in the form of amici panties, written while a lawyer at the firm of Morrison & Foerster, supported detainees in cases before the Supreme Court.

Jackson called the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks “a tragic attack on this country” and paid tribute to military service members.

“After 9/11, there were also lawyers who recognized that our nation’s values ​​were under attack. That we could not let the terrorists win by changing who we were fundamentally.”

“It meant that the people who were accused by our government of taking part in actions related to this, under our constitutional system, had the right to representation, had the right to be treated fairly. That is what makes our system the best in the world, “she said.

Jackson described his work as a public defender, saying, “I was in the Federal Public Defender’s Office right after the Supreme Court ruled that people detained in Guantanamo Bay by the president could apply for a review of their detention.”

She added: “Federal public defenders cannot choose their clients. They must represent whoever comes in and that is a service. That is what you do as a federal public defender, you stand up for the constitutional value of representation. ”

At one point during the hearing, Graham, the only Republican member of the Judiciary Committee who voted for Jackson for the DC Circuit last year, grilled the nominee in an intense series of questions.

“If you had your will, the executive could not conduct periodic investigations into the danger the detainee poses to the United States, they would have to make a decision to try them or release them, is not that correct?” he asked.

“Respectfully, Senator, that was not my argument,” Jackson said in response. She said she “filed an amicus brief on behalf of clients,” referring to various organizations.

Graham told CNN that it is “fair to say” that he sees red flags with her nomination in an interview after his first round of grilling the nominee, saying her response to defending Guantanamo Bay prisoners “just does not makes sense to me. ” Graham will have the opportunity to ask questions again at the hearing on Wednesday.

Jackson rejects scrutiny of her approach to child pornography crimes

While the Senate is examining the nomination, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has expressed concern over Jackson’s record of sentencing in child pornography cases.

Jackson vehemently denied the allegations on Tuesday, referring to the problem as a “sick and violent crime”.

“As a mother and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I thought nothing could be further from the truth,” said the nominee when Senate Judge Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, was asked to respond On the case. charges.

An in-depth CNN review of the material in question shows that Jackson has mostly followed the usual judicial sentencing practice in this kind of case. It has become the norm among judges to pass judgments under the guidelines in certain child pornography cases that do not involve the production of the pornography itself.
A group of retired federal judges – including two Republican nominees – told the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday night that Jackson’s record of sentencing child pornography is “completely consistent” with the records of other judges across the country.

White House and Senate Democrats have also rejected criticism in defense of Jackson.

“In the vast majority of cases involving child sex crimes, the sentences that Judge Jackson sentenced were in line with or above what the government or the U.S. probationary period recommended,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week.

Legal packaging and other key issues

Republican senators have also criticized support for the nomination from left-wing groups and tried to keep Jackson on the hot-button issue of expanding the number of Supreme Court justices sitting on the bench, also known as the court pack, an idea that has won. currency among progressive elements of the Democratic Party.

On Tuesday, Jackson argued that it was not her job to weight a politically sensitive issue.

“In my opinion, judges should not talk about political issues, and certainly not a candidate for a position in the Supreme Court,” she said in response to a question on the issue.

Later in the hearing, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California asked Jackson if she believes Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, is set as a precedent.

“Roe and Casey are firmly in the Supreme Court regarding the right to terminate a woman’s pregnancy,” Jackson said. Planned Parenthood v. Casey was decided in 1992 to confirm the central possession of Roe v. Wade, giving women the right to terminate pregnancies before viability.

What’s next when confirmation hearings are over

Democrats can confirm Jackson to the Supreme Court because of their narrow majority in the Senate, with 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. The party does not need any Republican support for a successful confirmation, but if any Republicans vote to confirm, it would give the White House a chance to proclaim a bipartisan confirmation.

However, it is not yet clear if Jackson will get any votes from the Republicans.

When the Senate voted to confirm her final year of filling a vacancy at a powerful DC-based appeals court, three Republican senators voted with the Democrats for: Graham, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

This story and headline has been updated with further developments on Tuesday.

CNN’s Tierney Sneed, Alex Rogers Joan Biskupic contributed to this report.

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