Religious beliefs, child porn, dark money, and expanding the court were a big part of Day 2 of the historic Senate confirmation hearings of D.C. Circuit Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as she seeks to become the first African American woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The political posturing, unorthodox questioning, and even the egregious suggestion that Judge Jackson is soft on crime, reached even lower when Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina whined about his personal choice, Judge Michelle Childs, before storming out of the hallowed halls of the Hart Senate Building on Capitol Hill.
“In your nomination, did you notice people from the left were pretty much cheering you on?” Sen. Graham asked Judge Jackson.
“A lot of people were cheering me on,” Jackson responded.
Sen. Graham then claimed that progressive groups and others led an effort to disqualify Judge Childs. He claimed individuals in those alleged groups called Judge Childs a “union-busting unreliable Republican in disguise.”
Unnerved, Judge Jackson told the senator that she wasn’t aware of that because, as a sitting judge, she’s remained focused on cases before her.
After an exchange with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Graham stormed out of the room.
Judge Jackson also withstood criticism from Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who accused the judge of letting child porn offenders off the hook.
“As a mother and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth,” Judge Jackson remarked. “These are some of the most difficult cases that a judge has to deal with because we’re talking about pictures of sex abuse of children.”
She continued: “We’re talking about graphic descriptions that judges have to read and consider when they decide how to sentence in these cases, and there’s a statute that tells judges what they’re supposed to do.”
Perhaps throwing the question back at Sen. Hawley, Judge Jackson reminded everyone that federal sentencing guidelines are established by Congress.
“I’m imposing … constraints because I understand how significant, how damaging, how horrible this crime is,” Judge Jackson demanded.
When Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked whether Judge Jackson would favor expanding the court from the current nine justices, she demurred. “Respectfully, senator, other nominees to the Supreme Court have responded as I will, which is that it is a policy question for Congress,” Judge Jackson stated. “I am so committed to staying in my lane of the system.”
Sen. Grassley persisted, asking if the Supreme Court has been bought and paid for by “dark money.”
“Senator, I don’t have any reason to believe that that’s the case,” Judge Jackson replied.
Earlier, Sen. Graham pressed Judge Jackson about her religious beliefs. “What faith are you, by the way?” Graham railed. “Could you fairly judge a Catholic?”
“How important is your faith to you?” he continued. “On a scale of one to 10, how faithful would you say you are in terms of religion?”
Judge Jackson asserted that she identifies as a nondenominational Protestant Christian. She insisted that her faith is very important but noted that there’s no religious test to confirmation under the U.S. Constitution.
“I am reluctant to talk about my faith in this way,” Judge Jackson pushed back. “I want to be mindful of the need for the public to have confidence in my ability to separate out my personal views.”
During the afternoon portion of the hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) attempted to bring decorum, asking Judge Jackson about the significance of her nomination.
Judge Jackson offered that her appointment and having diversity on the bench allows the opportunity for role models.
“I have received so many notes and letters and photos from little girls around the country who tell me that they are so excited for this opportunity,” Judge Jackson stated.
“Because I am a woman, a Black woman, all of those things, people have said, have been really meaningful to them.”
Stacy M. Brown is an NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent.