A Classroom Lesson | Richmond Free Press
In case you missed them, the televised confirmation hearings for nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson for the United States Supreme Court are an extraordinary class study in the face of arrogance, sexism, white privilege, homophobia and, yes, racism – everything the Republican Party seems to embrace these days.
Judge Jackson, a Harvard-educated lawyer and jurist, if confirmed, would be the first black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court in its 233-year history. And she would be only the third African American of 115 judges appointed to the court during that time.
There is no doubt that she has more qualifications for the position than the judges currently on the nine-member bench. As the Washington Post and others have noted, she is said to be the only sitting judge to have attended an Ivy League law school, served as a clerk for a justice of the United States Supreme Court, served as a public defender, served on the US Sentencing Commission, served as a US District Court Judge AND served as a US Court of Appeals Judge.
She is both brilliant and accomplished, and has spoken eloquently of her upbringing, her love for this country and the American Constitution, and her role as a defense attorney and now, as a judge, in the compliance with its protections and guarantees.
But most Republican members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which will have to confirm his nomination before it goes to a vote of the full Senate, asked few questions about his judicial philosophy in the first two days. of hearings which began on Monday.
Instead, some of the GOP senators lectured Judge Jackson, who has served as a federal court judge since 2013, on what a judge should be or do and how she should view the US Constitution. Another acted like he was her teacher and said he would come back and finish reading his 30-year-old university thesis, “The Hand of Oppression: Plea Bargaining Processes and Coercion of Criminal Defendants” , so that he can pass judgment on it.
Worse, other ultraconservative Republicans on the committee, seeking to defend their QAnon supporters and millions of other viewers, accused her of defending pedophiles by failing to impose maximum sentences on those convicted of federal child pornography.
They also accused Judge Jackson of being soft on crime, using her “time and talent to provide … free legal services to help terrorists get out of (federal detention in Guantanamo Bay) and back to fight.” and to support “critical race theory” in schools.
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who questioned Judge Jackson about being on the board of trustees at Georgetown’s private day school in Washington, attempted a “gotcha” and brandished books that he says were part of a curriculum at school that he claimed is “filled and overflowing with critical race theory.” As he showed an enlarged display of pictures from a picture book, “Antiracist Baby,” he even asked Judge Jackson if she agreed that “babies are racist.”
It was one of the many crazy moments that characterized GOP questions.
Judge Jackson replied that she had nothing to do with the school’s curriculum.
“Senator, I do not believe in making a child believe that he is racist or that he is not valued (…) that he is a victim or an oppressor”, she replied. .
Senator Cruz also claimed the school teaches elementary students about gender identity, which GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee jumped on. Senator Blackburn also ranted about a transgender swimmer being allowed to compete on the University of Pennsylvania women’s team during the NCAA. Senator Blackburn then asked Judge Jackson what message this sends to the next generation of young women, and she asked Judge Jackson to define what a woman is.
Judge Jackson, seeming puzzled by the absurd question, said she couldn’t.
Faced with the grilling, which lasted about 15 hours on Tuesday, Judge Jackson kept her cool. She didn’t even let the craziest of questions shake her. She also did not retaliate even though some members of the Republican committee fired at her.
Many lessons surfaced during these hours of hearings. If nothing else, the American people have witnessed that Judge Jackson has a crowning temper and intellect that would make her stand out on the highest court in the land.
We have seen with the Senate committee hearings how she listens to all sorts of arguments and deftly deals with even the most disrespectful people. Without attitude, disdain, or malice, she explained her work representing four 9/11 detainees at the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during her tenure as Federal Public Defender from 2005 to 2007. She said while she was “vividly and personally aware of the tragic and deplorable circumstances” surrounding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, she said she and others were aware that this would not result in a abandonment of constitutional principles – including representation law – which distinguish the United States from other nations.
She also talked about her method of deciding cases as a judge and the various factors that judges must consider before handing down a sentence in addition to the sentencing guidelines.
It was a classroom lesson.
The hearings also underscore the lack of diversity within the important institutions that largely shape this nation and our laws, such as the United States Senate and the United States Supreme Court. This lack of diversity can only be attributed to the long history of racism in our country which has denied opportunities to African Americans for centuries.
Currently, there are only three blacks in the US Senate, with only one, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And the United States Supreme Court has only one black associate justice, Justice Clarence Thomas.
The hearings also support the longstanding fact that black people, no matter how eminently skilled, still suffer at the hands of white people who are less than stellar.
The hearings also showed that we can count on Republicans to filibuster for progress in this nation, but we can’t always count on our so-called “allies” to back us up.
Clearly, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee will use a variety of reasons/apologies to vote against confirming Justice Jackson to the US Supreme Court. And when her nomination goes to the full Senate for a final vote, as expected, we’re sure many, if not most, Republicans won’t vote to confirm her.
Unfortunately, the question remains whether the 50 Democrats in the 100-member Senate will support her. The jury is still out on Democratic Sense. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. They’ve been pretty quiet since President Biden appointed Judge Jackson to the High Court.
With friends like that, who needs enemies?
The Senate Judiciary Committee is due to vote on Judge Jackson’s confirmation on Monday, April 4. We urge our readers to call the committee members and tell them that the Supreme Court of the United States needs a new justice with exceptional qualifications, credentials, and class – Justice Jackson.