“I take my duty to be independent seriously”: Ketanji Brown Jackson braces for an intense day of GOP attacks
The first day of the historic confirmation hearings were mostly full of pleasantries. But day two promises to be far more heated.
Day one of the confirmation hearings for the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court could best be described as a calm before this morning’s storm.
Jackson sat poised as Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee took turns previewing their respective lines of attack and counterarguments for nearly four hours until she finally had her chance to give color to the kind of justice she would be.
“If I am confirmed, I commit to you that I will work productively to support and defend the Constitution and this grand experiment of American democracy that has endured over these past 246 years,” Jackson said in her opening remarks. “I have been a judge for nearly a decade now, and I take that responsibility and my duty to be independent seriously.”
Jackson also explained how she arrives at her decisions.
“I decide cases from a neutral posture,” she said. “I evaluate the facts and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath.”
She added that transparency is a core value of her practice.
Jackson said she writes opinions so each person involved in a lawsuit knows that they were heard whether their argument ultimately wins or loses in court.
“People should know exactly what I think and the basis for my decision,” she said.
Each member of the committee had 10 minutes for their statements before Jackson spoke.
Senate Democrats spoke to both the historic nature of Jackson’s imminent confirmation and the depth of experience she would bring to the bench:
Senate Republicans, on the other hand, graded themselves on a curve for demonstrating the respect to Jackson that they believe was absent during the confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the second of three judges who were confirmed to the high court during the Trump administration. Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault days before his hearings.
They accused Democrats of being racists for objecting to previous nominees of color too.
As expected, Sen. Josh Hawley raised concerns about how Jackson ruled in seven cases regarding seven cases involving child sexual abuse material. As I mentioned in Monday’s newsletter, legal scholars and journalists have debunked Hawley’s claims. The White House pointed out that Hawley has voted for judges who gave similar sentences as Jackson.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina let it be known that he’s still pissed Jackson was selected over his preferred candidate — Judge J. Michelle Childs — and Hawley’s inquiries are fair game.
And in a bizarre sequence, Sen. Marsha Blackburn went from praising Jackson to branding her as a boogeywoman sent to infiltrate the Supreme Court with critical race theory, ensure equal rights for trans kids and unleash throngs of pedophiles into your neighborhoods.
“I can only wonder: What’s your hidden agenda?” Blackburn rhetorically asked. “Is it to let violent criminals, cop killers and child predators back to the streets?”
Members of the committee also attempted to delegitimize Jackson as a hand-picked selection of Demand Justice, a progressive organization advocating for Supreme Court reform.
“Every time you hear Republicans talk about us, it’s just another reminder: They know that can’t win a debate about Judge Jackson’s extraordinary qualifications,” the organization said in a response to GOP criticism.
Democrats also called BS on what they perceived to be insincere calls for civility from Senate Republicans when they refused to hold hearings for Attorney General Merrick Garland in 2016 when he was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016.
Critics also point to the breakneck pace Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed mere days after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and before the 2020 election.
“We need not pretend that wild accusations from self-interested actors deserve to be taken seriously,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said during a floor speech on Monday. “So color me skeptical that the American public will give them much weight.”
Politics aside, what’s most important is that public opinion seems to be on Jackson’s side.
Americans back her appointment of Supreme Court by a more than two-to-one margin, according to a new poll from Monmouth University. And more than two-thirds of the public feels it’s important for the court to reflect the nation’s diversity. A Pew Research Center poll last week also found that more people support than oppose her confirmation.
When the Judiciary Committee convenes this morning for the second day of hearings, Jackson will answer questions from committee members.
And as I wrote yesterday, Jackson has been coached to avoid controversial questions and withhold any details about how she would rule if confirmed to the bench. She’s also already been confirmed to the Senate three times before so that experience should come in handy.
“During this hearing, I hope that you will see how much I love our country and the Constitution and the rights that make us free,” she said to the committee on Monday. “Thank you for this historic chance to join the highest Court, to work with brilliant colleagues, to inspire future generations, and to ensure liberty and justice for all.”
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Today in Politics
President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing this morning. There are no additional events on his public schedule.
Vice President Kamala Harris has no events on her public schedule.
The House is out.
The Senate is in and will continue debate on a bill to increase US competitiveness with China.
In The Know
President Biden reiterated his administration’s warnings that the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks on critical American services and technologies. The assessment is based on evolving intelligence and is consistent with Russia’s playbook.
Vice President Harris appointed Phil Gordon as her new national security advisor. Gordon was previously the vice president’s deputy national security advisor and replaces Nancy McEldowney, who served in the position since day one of the Biden-Harris administration.
Senior administration officials updated 16 CEOs of major companies from the energy, food and manufacturing industries on the latest developments on the crisis in Ukraine. Participants committed to working together to offset the economic disruptions of the Russian invasion. President Biden joined for part of the discussion.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the late Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska will lie in state next Tuesday in National Statuary Hall in the US Capitol. Young, the longest-serving Republican representative and “dean” of the House, passed away while traveling last week.
The pandemic and Capitol insurrection pushed far 55 percent more staffers for House members to leave their jobs than in the preceding year. Last year's rates mark the House's highest turnover since at least 2001 and reinforce a recent push for staffer unionization. [Keturah Hetrick / Legistorm]
48 percent of Hispanic voters nationwide consider themselves Democrats, and only 23 percent identify as Republican. Both parties view Latinos as a swing constituency that could determine the balance of power after this year’s midterm elections. [Marc Caputo / NBC News]
Food banks are seeing a surge in need. The demand is a result of most pandemic assistance programs ending, rising inflation and the expiration of the Child Tax Credit. [Laura Reiley / WaPo]
The risk of adolescents who use e-cigarettes switching to cannabis differs based on their well-being, according to a new study. We know from existing literature that e-cigarette use is associated with subsequent cannabis use, particularly in youth and young adults,” Jidong Huang, associate professor of health management and policy in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University and the study’s corresponding author, said. “What we need to better understand is the link between e-cigarette use and subsequent cannabis use among those subgroups.”
Beyoncé’s team is reportedly in talks with the Oscars to perform her song “Be Alive” from the King Richard soundtrack. The performance would be broadcast live from tennis courts in Compton, California where Venus and Serena Willians trained under their dad, Richard. Rumor has it that Will Smith, who plays Richard in the movie, would join Beyoncé for the performance before heading to Hollywood for the awards show. [Matt Donnelly / Variety]
Read All About It
Siobhan McDonough on why a guaranteed income program would be the simplest, most revolutionary approach to ending poverty:
While guaranteed income alone won’t be a magic fix to the historical injustices around race in the US, cash transfers that reduce contemporary income gaps can begin to make a dent in racial wealth inequalities. To think about it another way, if cash transfers had been given to low-income families in 1960, it would’ve lessened the racial income gap back then, which in turn would have compounded into a smaller racial wealth gap today. We didn’t do that in 1960, but we can start today.
Claretta Bellamy on Black women and uterine fibroids:
Uterine fibroids are rarely discussed, despite being a common condition, particularly for Black women. Experts say that by age 35, about half of Black women have had them, and by age 50, 80 percent of Black women have them, compared to 70 percent of white women. Black women are also more likely to have higher fibroid growth than other racial groups. While most cases require no treatment, in some instances, they can cause weight gain, heavy periods, frequent urination or pelvic pain, and they may require surgery.
Now, some Black women, like Covington, who shared her experience on YouTube, are speaking up about their struggles and are encouraging others to educate themselves about the condition, so they can identify the symptoms and seek treatment, if necessary.
Ryan Cooper on conservative Democrats:
This is a crock. Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda is dead because a handful of the party’s most conservative members killed it. Now the party has nothing of legislative substance to run on, and members in swing districts are looking down the barrel of a possible midterm electoral bloodbath. The culprits are starting to head for the exits, scapegoating everyone but themselves for the consequences of their horrible decisions.
Rainesford Stauffer on teen parenthood and college:
With so little support for young parents, largely lacking the resources needed to be both a successful parent and student, the current American education system seems to send a message to parenting students that they don’t belong on college campuses. That begs a larger question: What kind of young person gets to aspire to a future to begin with?
Rebecca Schuman on why gymnastics is on the verge of an international crisis:
Now, thanks to Vladimir Putin’s current atrocities in Ukraine, the sport that helped humanize his forbears is on the brink of international collapse—a schism that could lead an entire generation to miss out on seeing the world’s best gymnasts. Everything old appears new again: There’s no McDonald’s in Moscow, and there won’t be a properly contested World Championships or Olympics for the foreseeable future. On March 5, the tenth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the International Gymnastics Federation (or FIG) did what athletes, coaches, and fans around the world (including, for what it’s worth, this one) had been demanding for weeks: banned Russian gymnasts, judges, and coaches from international competition, indefinitely. While “indefinite” means that it is within the realm of possibility that Russia will be welcome at, say, the 2024 Paris Olympics, at present it’s hard to conceive of that happening (in any sport, honestly) without provoking worldwide outrage.
Jason Newman on rapper Pusha T’s new Arby’s ad:
When musicians say, “It’s really a full circle moment for me,” they’re not usually talking about a fish sandwich diss track.
But here we are — two decades after a then-burgeoning Pusha T rapped his way into jingle immortality with McDonald’s’ “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign — and that’s how the battle-tested Virginia rapper describes his latest project.
On the new Arby’s commercial “Spicy Fish Diss,” premiering today, Pusha T takes aim at McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich to shill for a competitor. On the surface, it makes for one of hip-hop’s silliest, most corporate quote-unquote beefs — famous rapper gets paid a ton to promote one mass-marketed product by dissing another. In fact, the sometime Clipse MC says this track and its backstory hold significant financial and personal lessons for him, serving as a cautionary tale on less frivolous topics such as song ownership and sync rights.
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