The first day of the Senate confirmation hearings for Biden Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson consisted of nothing but opening statements by Jackson and the Senators.
Jackson said, “During this hearing, I hope you will see how much I love this country, the Constitution, and the rights that make us free. I decide cases from a neutral posture. I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath. I know that my role as a judge is a limited one – that the Constitution empowers me only to decide cases and controversies that are properly presented. And I know that my judicial role is further constrained by careful adherence to precedent.”
That’s reassuring, but also hard to believe. Jackson wasn’t chosen by whoever’s making President Biden’s decisions for him just because she brings much-needed diversity to the SCOTUS by being yet another liberal Harvard alum. There were other judges who checked Biden’s “black/female” boxes, but Jackson was known as the most leftwing activist of the choices.
Senate Democrats provided the comic relief by admonishing Republicans that they had promised to keep the process “civil.” This from the same people who accused Judge Barrett of being in a "Handmaid's Tale" style religious cult and who smeared Brett Kavanaugh as a drunk, rapist and rape gang organizer with zero evidence.
As Sen. Ted Cruz reminded them, it’s the Democrats who have a disgusting history of turning SCOTUS hearings into “high tech lynchings” (Clarence Thomas’ term for the hearings he faced, thanks to then-Senator Joe Biden.) Biden also voted against a black female Bush nominee. He claimed it was because he disagreed with her philosophy and rulings, but by the Democrats' own claims, we can assume he just was being a racist.
The Republicans launched no personal attacks on Judge Jackson, but they made it clear that they had serious reservations about her previous statements and rulings. These include seven cases in which she gave pedophiles sentences far more lenient than federal guidelines called for, and her comments praising “The 1619 Project” and saying that judges should consider Critical Race Theory in sentencing defendants.
That doesn’t sound like being neutral and applying the facts without favor and in adherence to precedent. It would be nice to know more on her thinking about sentencing, but Sen. Chuck Grassley complained that his request for public records on Jackson’s four years on the US Sentencing Commission (which Democrats cited as part of her valuable experience) had been blocked and 48,000 pages worth of documents withheld from view.
Republican Senators, and indeed all Americans, deserve to know whether an unelected judge who may be handing down decisions that affect all our lives for decades to come is telling the truth about respecting the Constitution, the rule of law and limits on judicial power. Without that reassurance, we could end up with a two-tiered “justice” system – one in which people who, say, attempted to block the sacred duties of Congress by creating a disturbance in the chamber to block the Kavanaugh confirmation were let go without being accused of “insurrection” while a Trump supporter who was told by a Capitol Police officer that he could enter the Capitol, so he came in, looked around and left, faces up to 20 years in prison.
It never used to be necessary even to ask SCOTUS nominees if they believed in the type of banana republic “justice” system where people are punished or released based on their political beliefs rather than their actions. Unfortunately, now it is. And Republicans didn’t create that.