U.S. Supreme Court picks Jackson moves closer to confirmation
Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the United States Supreme Court, edged closer to securing Senate confirmation within the next two weeks on Thursday, while experts from the country’s leading group of lawyers dismissed Republican claims that she was “soft on crime”, including child pornography. As the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up the fourth and final day of Jackson’s confirmation hearing, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said the chamber was “on track” to confirm the federal appeals judge in the life position ahead of his scheduled break for Easter on April 8.
There is no indication that the Republican attacks mounted this week are likely to derail Jackson’s confirmation, with Biden’s fellow Democrats narrowly controlling the Senate. With a simple majority needed for confirmation and the Senate split 50-50 between parties, she would get the job if Democrats stick together, regardless of how Republicans vote. Following liberal Justice Stephen Breyer’s announcement in January of his intention to return, Biden nominated Jackson in February to become the first black woman to serve on the nation’s top judicial body. The committee will likely vote April 4 on sending his nomination to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote.
Schumer described the Republican attacks as an attempt by “just a handful” of senators to “smear” Jackson with misleading and false accusations. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would vote against confirmation. McConnell slammed Jackson in a Senate speech, accusing him of deflecting fundamental questions about his judicial philosophy and refusing to answer legitimate questions about his own rulings.
McConnell also faulted Jackson after refusing to weigh in on proposals from the left to increase the number of justices to erase the court’s current 6-3 conservative majority. Jackson said that was up to Congress to decide. Judge Amy Coney Barrett took a similar position during her 2020 confirmation hearing. “Judge Jackson refuses to reject the fringe position that Democrats should try to wrap the Supreme Court,” McConnell said.
It’s possible that Jackson could attract a small number of Republican votes, most likely Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins. Jackson concluded two days of marathon testimony Wednesday night, facing repeated attacks from Republicans who accused her of being lenient in her previous role as a federal trial court judge to convict child porn offenders.
“Some of the attacks on this judge were unjust, relentless and contrary to the dignity of the United States Senate,” said Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, chairman of the committee. “My lasting impression,” Durbin added, “is of a judge who sat there through it all, head held high, with dignity, determination and strength.”
The most hostile questions came from Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Marsha Blackburn and Lindsey Graham. Jackson’s confirmation would not change the ideological balance of the court but would allow Biden to freshen up his liberal bloc with a 51-year-old jurist young enough to serve for decades.
‘WELL QUALIFIED’ The committee heard Thursday from outside witnesses testify about Jackson’s record and qualifications, including members of the American Bar Association, which rated Jackson as ‘well qualified’ – its highest rating – for the post.
Durbin asked retired federal judge Ann Claire Williams, one of the bar witnesses, if during the group’s review of Jackson’s case, evidence emerged that she was ‘soft on crime’ . “None,” Williams said.
Williams said that in interviews with 250 lawyers and judges who had first-hand knowledge of Jackson’s career, none of them raised issues about his sentencing of the child pornography defendants. Another bar witness, trial attorney Joseph Drayton, said he specifically spoke to prosecutors and defense attorneys about the issue, adding: “None of them felt that she had shows bias in any way.”
The bar association’s witnesses were members of its Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Affairs. Jackson since last year served as a judge of the Federal Court of Appeals after eight years as a federal district judge.
If confirmed, Jackson would be the 116th judge to sit on the High Court, the sixth woman and the third black person. With Jackson on the bench, the court would have four women and two black judges for the first time.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)