Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson faces questions on second day of confirmation hearings

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.

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.

In contrast, Republicans have tried to portray her as weak in relation to crime by focusing on some of her previous defense work as well as by broadly trying to link her to the criminal justice policy that they claim has fueled an increase in crime. Republicans have raised questions about what constitutes Jackson’s legal philosophy as they warn against activism and prescribe political results from the bench. And they have also criticized the support for the nomination from left-wing groups.

Jackson had a chance to formally present herself on Monday as she spoke about her family history and gratitude for the nomination. Tuesday’s hearing gave her a chance to answer the pointed questions and criticisms outlined by Republican senators.

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

On Tuesday, senators can ask questions to the nominee for 30 minutes each according to the schedule outlined by the committee. There are 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans on the panel, and the interrogation is likely to last well into the evening.

On Wednesday, lawmakers will be given 20 minutes each for a second round of questioning.

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.

Senators looked at arguments during the first day of hearings

The first day of hearings gave lawmakers on both sides of the aisle a chance to preview arguments they are likely to return to during their interrogation rounds.

Democrats highlighted Jackson’s credentials and the historic nature of her nomination, putting a defense against Republicans’ arguments that she’s weak on crime.

“We have heard allegations that you are ‘soft on crime.’

“I am convinced that the American people will see through these attacks and all other last-minute attempts to derail your confirmation,” he said.

In his introductory remarks, the committee’s senior Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, promised a “thorough, exhaustive examination of Judge Jackson’s record and views.”

He bluntly said that there are two types of nominees who have worked in criminal cases: “Bill of Rights lawyers who want to protect the constitutional rights of defendants,” and “criminal defense lawyers who disagree with our criminal law.”

“Of course it’s a very important difference,” he said.

Other Republicans on the panel were more powerful and direct in previewing lines of attack against the nominee.

As a public defender, Jackson represented a Guantanamo Bay prisoner, but it is her advocacy business for prisoners while working at a private company that Republicans are particularly skeptical of.

“I am a little concerned about some of the positions you have taken and arguments that you have put forward that represent people who have committed terrorist acts against the United States and other dangerous criminals,” said Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, on Monday.

Ahead of the hearing, which began this week, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri had expressed concern over Jackson’s record of sentencing in child pornography cases – a highly accused topic he returned to Monday.

An in-depth CNN review of the material in question, after Hawley initially outlined his critique, shows that Jackson has mostly followed the common law of sentencing in this kind of case, and that Hawley took some of his comments out of context by suggesting , that they were opinions, rather than follow-up questions to subject matter experts.

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. The guidelines are considered outdated by many judges, especially for how they treat the use of computers and other elements that can improve a sentence under the guidelines.

“Some have said the federal sentencing guidelines are too harsh on child sex crimes, especially child pornography,” Hawley said Monday. “I just have to be honest, I can not say I agree with that.”

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.

The White House and Senate Democrats have also pushed back 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.

“Coming from a law enforcement family, she has dedicated her career to standing up for the rule of law, which is why she is endorsed by so many leading law enforcement organizations in the country. And trying to smear or discredit her history and her work. not confirmed in facts, “Psaki added.

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: Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

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

CNN’s Alex Rogers and Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

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