Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson questioned the Senate Judiciary Committee for about 11 hours on Tuesday, defending his record against branding an orchestrated Republican effort as “soft to crime” and liberal activism. He returned Wednesday morning for an all-day interrogation.
Here are some of the best takeaways:
Pushback 6 demanding punishment for child porn
Jackson has denied in his first public statement against Republican Sen. Josh Howley’s allegations that he has a “long record” of “hooking off” child pornography offenders.
“Punishment is a prudent act of a judge, but it is not a numbers game,” he said.
Howley spent about 30 minutes examining Jackson’s decision to sentence an 18-year-old man convicted of possessing child pornography in 2013 to three months in prison – prosecutors under 10 years wanted up to 10 years in federal guidelines.
Jackson called the offense “disgusting” and “disgusting”, explaining the multifaceted process he had to follow to form a sentence that was “adequate but not excessive.”
“Congress not only gave the judges the discretion to make a decision, but also required the judges to do so on a separate basis,” he said.
Judicial ‘method’, not a philosophy
Jackson resisted repeated attempts to classify his jurisprudence as symbols of a particular “philosophy”, but he described a “method” devised to decide the case.
When receiving a lawsuit, he follows three steps: first, “proceed from the position of neutrality;” Second, “evaluate all information;” Third, the interpretation and application of the law for case information.
Sen. Ben Sass asked Jackson which historical justice he was most attached to. “If you want to tell the American people who you are closest to, who are those judges?” He asked.
“I must admit that I do not have the justice that they have created or will do,” Jackson replied. “I have a record of what I have. I have over 570 cases in which I have used the method described and it shows people how I analyze cases.”
Defending his defense against the accused terrorists
Jackson described his service as a federal public defender – including the defense of terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay without charge – for “standing up for the constitutional value of representation.”
“People deserve to be represented under our system,” he said. “Federal public defenders cannot pick their clients. This is a service.”
Jackson’s service was extended to personal practice, which was verified during a dramatic exchange with Graham’s nominee, Sen. Lindsay.
“What made you join the case?” He pressed. “If this is not your location, why would you hire a client?” Graham has long opposed efforts to free prisoners from the post-9/11 war.
As part of his work, Jackson helped his client file a complaint to the Supreme Court alleging that the U.S. government’s conduct was a “war crime and / or a crime against humanity.”
Sen. John Kornin later accused Jackson of briefly identifying former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfed as “war criminals,” but documents show no such direct or personal allegations were made.
Critical race theory and law
They were “friendly” as Harvard law classmates, but today Sen. Ted Cruz has a heated argument with Jackson over critical race theory and its place in American academia and law.
Jackson told Cruz, “I’ve never studied critical race theory, and I’ve never used it. It doesn’t matter what I do as a judge.”
Cruz tried to explain to Jackson CRT – an academic theory that racism is inherent in American society – and why it appeared in the Georgetown Day school curriculum, where he sat on the board.
Equipped with quotes from the book’s poster board, he said that used in private schools, Cruz pressured Jackson to address their messages. “Do you agree with this book that children are being taught that children are racist?” He asked.
Jackson replied, “I don’t believe that any child should feel that they are racist or that they are not valued or that even if they are less than that, they are victims, they are oppressors,” Jackson replied.
Hot Button Social Problems: Guns, Faith, Abortion, Gay Marriage
Every modern Supreme Court nominee is asked about his or her position on the most hot-button social issues of the day. Jackson, like his predecessors, answered subtly in order to maintain his neutrality in the future.
Asked about the Second Amendment, Jackson said, “The Supreme Court has established that the personal right to possess and carry a weapon is a fundamental right.”
Sen. Lindsay Graham Point Blank asked, “Do you believe?” Jackson said he was a secular Protestant Christian whose faith was “very important” in his life.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how reliable would you say?” Graham continued. “How often do you go to church?” Jackson declined to discuss the details of his faith practice.
Asked if he supports a “traditional” view of marriage, Jackson said: “I am aware that there are different religious beliefs that define marriage in a traditional way, adding that these issues are being sued, as you know. .And so I’m “limited to what I can say.”
Sen. John Kennedy asked the judge if he knew when life began. “I don’t know,” Jackson replied. “I have a religious point of view that I set aside when judging cases.” Prior to the hearing, he had said that Rowe v. Wade was a “settled law.”