Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court, will be ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee with the path to her historical confirmation seemingly clear.
Committee hearings begin Monday against 51-year-old Jackson, a federal judge for the past nine years. She is expected to present her opening statement later in the day, then answer questions from 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans over the next two days.
She appeared before the same committee last year, after President Joe Biden selected her to fill a loophole in the federal appeals court in Washington, just down the hill from the Supreme Court.
Her testimony will give most Americans, as well as the Senate, their most extensive look yet at the Harvard-trained attorney with a background that includes two years as a federal public defender. That makes her the first candidate with significant crime-defense experience since Thurgood Marshall, the first black American to serve on the nation’s highest court.
The American Bar Association, which evaluates judicial candidates, on Friday gave Jackson the highest rating, unanimously “qualified.”
Janette McCarthy Wallace, general counsel for the NAACP, said she was delighted to see a Black woman standing in front of the high court seat.
“Representation issues,” Wallace said. “It’s important to have diverse experience on the bench. It has to reflect the rich cultural diversity of this country.”
It remains unclear how fiercely Republicans will be in their pursuit of Jackson, as her confirmation will not alter the court’s 6-3 conservative majority.
However, some Republicans have signaled that they could use Jackson’s nomination to try to show Democrats as soft on crime, an emerging theme in the campaigns. GOP midterm elections. Biden has selected several former public defenders for life-term judicial positions. In addition, Jackson serves on the United States Sentencing Commission, an independent agency created by Congress to reduce disparities in federal prison sentences.
Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., highlighted a potential line of attack. Hawley wrote on Twitter last week in a thread echoed by the Republican National Committee: “I have noticed an alarming pattern when it comes to Judge Jackson’s treatment of sex offenders, especially sex offenders. child predators. Hawley did not raise the issue when he questioned Jackson last year before voting against her appeals court’s confirmation.
The White House has strongly pushed back against criticism as “malicious and weakly presented misinformation.” Sentencing expert Douglas Berman, an Ohio State law professor, wrote on her blog that Jackson’s records show her doubts about the recommended range of prison sentences for child pornography cases,” but So do prosecutors in most of her cases. district judges across the country.”
Hawley is among the Republican members of the committee, along with Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who are potential 2024 presidential candidates, and whose aspirations may collide with other Republicans who will soon not pursue the approach earth to Jackson’s nomination.
Biden selected Jackson in February, fulfilling his pledge to run for the nomination of a Black woman to the Supreme Court for the first time in American history. She will take the seat of Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced in January that he would retire this summer after 28 years on the court.
Jackson served as Supreme Court clerk for Breyer early in her legal career.
Democrats who control the Senate by the lowest margins are moving quickly to confirm Jackson, although Breyer’s seat won’t officially open until the summer. They have no votes in a 50-50 Senate, which they run thanks to an inconclusive vote by Vice President Kamala Harris.
But they’re not moving as quickly as the Republicans did when they brought Amy Coney Barrett to court just over a month after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and days before the 2020 presidential election.
Barrett, third of President Donald Trump’s High Court picks, won the court’s conservative majority when she took the place of libertarian Ginsburg.
Last year, Jackson won Senate confirmation by a vote of 53-44, with three Republicans backing her. It’s unclear how many Republicans can vote for her this time.
Jackson is married to Patrick Johnson, a surgeon in Washington. They have two daughters, one in college and one in high school. She is married to former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who was also the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012. Ryan has voiced his support for Jackson’s nomination.
Jackson spoke of how her children have kept her in touch with reality, even as she has kept the judge’s gaze since 2013. In the courtroom, she told a audience in Athens, Georgia, in 2017, “people listen and generally do what I tell them to do.”
At home, however, her daughters “make it clear that I don’t know anything, that I shouldn’t tell them anything, much less give them orders, that is, if they talk to me,” she said. Jackson said.