This is Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court moment, but the GOP wants to complain about the past

Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court, was sworn in Monday during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. (Bloomberg)

On the second day of Senate hearings on Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination, it became clear that Republicans simply didn’t have the ammunition to torpedo his chances.

Appointed by President Biden to fulfill his campaign promise to place a black woman on the high court, Jackson is extremely qualified.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, she served as a judge on the Federal District Court and currently sits on the bench of the Federal Court of Appeals. She served as vice chair of the US Sentencing Commission, which develops guidelines for federal courts; worked as a federal public defender; and clerk for Judge Stephen G. Breyer, the very judge she was appointed to replace.

“In the world of law,” Berkeley law dean Erwin Chemerinsky recently said. written for the Times“Credentials don’t get better than his.”

Republicans can’t tarnish such a brilliant candidate, but they can score political points with their base and Fox News, whose own Tucker Carlson demanded to see Jackson’s LSAT scores to prove she’s qualified for the job. As if, Tucker!

Conservatives initially tried to undermine Jackson by brushing off what they mocked Biden identity politics.

How dare Biden brutally kill the aspirations of so many highly qualified white men? Wait while I call the ambulance!

It doesn’t matter that a black woman has never served on the Supreme Court. Nor, for that matter, is anyone of Asian, Native American, or Pacific Islander descent.

And never mind that the same furious Tories didn’t peek when the candidate Donald Trump has pledged to appoint judges who would overrule Roe vs. Wade – then followed with the successful nominations of Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, judges whose shocking failure to intervene in a clearly unconstitutional Texas law banning abortions after six weeks demonstrates that all three are more than ready to overturn 50 years of legal precedent that has given women control over their reproductive lives.

Absent accusations that Jackson sexually harassed a subordinate or drunkenly assaulted a classmate in high school, what could conservatives be complaining about?

Their own partisan grievances, apparently.

“You are the beneficiary of Republican candidates who see their lives turned upside down”, Senator Lindsey Graham told Jackson. “Most of us were unable to return to our offices during Kavanaugh without getting spit on.”

I can’t find any reference to Graham or any other Republicans who were spat on. The only person who seemed to spit during the Kavanaugh hearings was Graham himself overworked.

Just before the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Jackson’s nomination, Republican Senator from Iowa Charles E. Grassley swore“We’re not going to have comedy and tragedy like the Democrats demonstrated to Kavanaugh. … We’re not going to fall into the gutter like they did with Kavanaugh.

“No one is going to ask about your teenage dating habits,” the Texas Republican said Senator Ted Cruz told Jackson Monday. “No one is going to ask you, with mock sternness, ‘Do you like beer?'” It was an inappropriate and light-hearted reference to a serious sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford.

Cruz must have forgotten that it was a belligerent Kavanaugh himself who asked a senator about beer, and not the other way around: “I like beer”, Kavanaugh told Democratic Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Do you like beer, Senator, or not?” What would you like to drink? Senator, what do you like to drink?”

And it is absurd to think that the defense of detainees held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay is somehow un-American, as Graham implied on Tuesday morning.

Graham was so excited, bordering on hysteria once again, that he left the room after shouting that he was okay with Guantanamo detainees dying in custody, never given due process, if that prevented them from returning to the battlefield.

Later, in response to clean-up questions from Democratic Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin, Jackson explained that public defenders couldn’t choose their clients, as if that was something that really needed to be explained to Graham, who used to work. as a defense attorney and prosecutor in the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps. “They have to represent whoever comes in, and that’s a service,” she said. “That’s what you do as a federal public defender. You defend the constitutional value of representation.

Supreme Court histrionics are now the domain of conservative men. Men like Graham, Kavanaugh and Judge Clarence Thomas can squirm, cry, cringe or cry racism.

Women, as Jackson demonstrated, must always remain calm and collected, lest their credibility be diminished by any display of emotion.

We have seen this since 1991, when law professor Anita Hill charged equally Thomas, then a candidate, of sexually harassing her when she worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas responded with what appeared to be a calculated accusation: By allowing Hill to testify, the The Senate proceeded a “high-tech lynching for arrogant blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.”

We saw that double standard again in 2018, when Blasey Ford testified almost academically to being scared for her life when, as she alleged, a teenage Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed at a party.

The two Kavanaughs and Grahamtaking a page from Thomas’ playbook, replied with a red-faced histrionic.

To Jackson’s credit — and to no one’s surprise — she kept her cool as the Republicans around her melted down or tried to provoke her with deceptive attacks.

In the end, it will surely be confirmed. She will become — no, she already is — an important American figure, poised to make the best kind of history, in her calm, measured way.


This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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