Republicans are promising a “respectful” confirmation process for Ketanji Brown Jackson after what they described as malicious scrutiny of former conservative Supreme Court nominees.
GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee took time during Monday’s opening statements to air their grievances about the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Robert Bork during their nomination hearings. Sen. Ted Cruz called the Kavanaugh hearings “one of the lowest moments in the history of this committee,” while Sen. Ben Sasse said Barrett faced the “religious bigot.” Kavanaugh and Barrett were confirmed on the bench.
Yet Republican senators have made it clear that, despite their criticism of the Democrats’ treatment of former court nominees, they plan to grill Jackson when interrogations begin this week. Areas targeted by conservatives include his time as a public defender representing Guantánamo Bay detainees, his work at the United States Sentencing Commission and his record as a federal judge.
Senator Josh Hawley claimed that Jackson’s sentencing decisions for convicted pedophiles were too lenient – charges that have been called by several news outlets a misleading. Hawley doubled down on that argument Monday by listing seven specific cases of child pornography that he hopes to discuss with Jackson over the next few days.
Cruz said that “part of the Democratic effort to abolish the police is to appoint judges who systematically side with violent criminals, free violent criminals, refuse to enforce the law and that endangers citizens innocent”.
Jackson can be confirmed to the Supreme Court without any Republican support, as long as Democrats remain united on her nomination. A simple majority is all that is needed to uphold justice, and Democrats have tight control of the Senate thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ decisive vote.
Jackson, 51, was asked by President Joe Biden last month to fill the seat vacated by retired Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. If confirmed, Jackson will be the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court in its 233-year history.
Democrats have rallied behind Jackson amid accusations from Republicans that she has a habit of being “soft” on crime.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin addressed the charges in his opening statement, citing a National exam article calling Hawley’s accusations “baseless to the point of demagoguery”.
“We’ve heard claims that you’re ‘soft on crime,'” the Illinois Democrat said. “These baseless accusations are unjust… They go against the promises made by my colleagues that they would approach your appointment with civility and respect.”
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said the allegations regarding Jackson’s case are “unproven and unprovable” and “just plain untrue.”
Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy also came to Jackson’s defense, pointing out that the judge came from a law enforcement family and was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, which is the largest union in police in the United States.
“His experience as a federal public defender would bring an informed perspective on our criminal justice system to the Supreme Court,” Leahy said.