In grueling 13 hours of testimony yesterday, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson answered question after question posed to her by the lawmakers taking part in her confirmation hearing.
To the casual observer, the line of questioning during much of the hearing was par-for-the-course for a SCOTUS nominee, but if you listened carefully, you heard familiar Republican dog whistles at a steady cadence and subtle innuendo that attempted to paint Jackson as both a radical liberal soft on crime and an advocate of racist critical race theory teachings. Neither of which are true.
But what is the most insulting about the farce that has become the confirmation process for this nominee is the length to which lawmakers are going to cast Judge Jackson in an unflattering light. Jackson, however, is making it damn tough to do that.
Poise Under Pressure
Question after question found Judge Jackson contemplative, carefully considering her responses, and calmly and pointedly answering questions that had little-to-nothing to do with her ability to be fair and impartial as a justice.
For instance, Sen.r Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took three minutes to question Judge Jackson about her religious affiliation and how often she attended church. Jackson answered each question, but also asked Graham what the line of questioning had to do with her ability to be fair and impartial in deciding cases.
Graham responded that he simply asked the questions because Justice Amy Coney Barrett was subjected to a similar line of questioning during her confirmation hearing last year. Graham wasted three minutes pointlessly grilling Judge Jackson only to complain about the treatment of a nominee who now sits on the Court. What was the point?
Judge Jackson has shown considerable calm and poise during these three days of testimony. Undoubtedly, that’s been difficult to do at times. For instance, when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) questioned her about the teaching of critical race theory in Georgetown Day School. He held up the book to ask the judge if she agreed with teaching young children that they may be inherently racist.
She replied no, but also added that she had not read the books that the Senator displayed nor have any of the cases she has heard been related to critical race theory. Ted Cruz used his time to raise a popular Republican hot button issue -- critical race theory -- to appeal to the Republican base to get them energized ahead of the November midterms. It was grandstanding at its best.
Similar incidents of grandstanding and lines of questioning or comment followed. Rep. Josh Hawley (R-MO) painted Jackson as light on sentencing those involved in child pornography. Judge Jackson's record, however, shows that the sentences she has leveled have been in line with prosecutorial recommendations. It was attempted mudslinging that didn’t quite make contact.
Perhaps most offensive comment came from Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-LA). The lawmaker began his comments by calling the Judge, “ intelligent and articulate,” as if it were unusual to be in the presence of a professional, educated Black woman who is smart and well spoken. It’s incredibly offensive to have such stereotypes reinforced, let alone on national TV by our lawmakers. However, Judge Jackson handled these statements well.
Twice as Good
There’s an adage that Black parents instill in their children from an early age: “Black people need to be twice as good” to get half as much. It’s meant to encourage young Blacks to work harder than their White counterparts to prove they deserve to be where they are.
By all accounts, Judge Jackson, 51, is a walking example of this and is eminently qualified for a seat on the Supreme Court. After all, the Harvard Law graduate, has accomplished much in her career. She was a Supreme Court clerk, a federal appeals judge, a former district court judge, and public defender. She also attended public school, served on a sentencing commission, and has more federal judicial experience than all the other justices combined. Yet, she’s being questioned by lesser men about often irrelevant topics to build their own political credentials and to curry favor with their right-wing supporters.
Most legal analysts expect Judge Jackson to be confirmed as she should be. It’s just tough to watch her being hazed so openly by far lesser men.