Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 22, 2022.
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 22, 2022.

ANALYSIS:

Religious beliefs, child porn, dark money and expanding the court were a big part of Day 2 of the historic Senate confirmation hearings of D.C. Circuit Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as she seeks to become the first African American woman on the Supreme Court.

The political posturing, unorthodox questioning and even the egregious suggestion that Jackson is soft on crime reached even lower when Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina whined about his personal choice, Judge Michelle Childs, before storming out of the hallowed halls of the Hart Senate Building on Capitol Hill.

“In your nomination, did you notice people from the left were pretty much cheering you on?” Graham asked Jackson.

“A lot of people were cheering me on,” Jackson responded.

Graham then claimed that progressive groups and others led an effort to disqualify Childs. He claimed individuals in those groups called Childs a “union-busting unreliable Republican in disguise.”

Unnerved, Jackson told the senator that she wasn’t aware of that because, as a sitting judge, she’s remained focused on cases before her.

After an exchange with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Graham stormed out of the room.

Jackson also withstood criticism from Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who accused the judge of letting child porn offenders off the hook.

“As a mother and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth,” Jackson remarked. “These are some of the most difficult cases that a judge has to deal with because we’re talking about pictures of sex abuse of children. We’re talking about graphic descriptions that judges have to read and consider when they decide how to sentence in these cases, and there’s a statute that tells judges what they’re supposed to do.”

Perhaps throwing the question back at Hawley, Jackson reminded everyone that federal sentencing guidelines are established by Congress.

“I’m imposing … constraints because I understand how significant, how damaging, how horrible this crime is,” Jackson demanded.

When Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked whether Jackson would favor expanding the court from the current nine justices, she demurred.

“Respectfully, senator, other nominees to the Supreme Court have responded as I will, which is that it is a policy question for Congress,” Jackson said.

“I am so committed to staying in my lane of the system.”

Grassley persisted, asking if the Supreme Court has been bought and paid for by “dark money.”

“Senator, I don’t have any reason to believe that that’s the case,” Jackson replied.

Earlier, Graham pressed Jackson about her religious beliefs.

“What faith are you, by the way?” Graham railed. “Could you fairly judge a Catholic?”

“How important is your faith to you?” he continued. “On a scale of one to 10, how faithful would you say you are in terms of religion?”

Jackson asserted that she identifies as a nondenominational Protestant Christian.

She insisted that her faith counts as very important but noted that there’s no religious test to confirmation under the U.S. Constitution.

“I am reluctant to talk about my faith in this way,” Jackson pushed back. “I want to be mindful of the need for the public to have confidence in my ability to separate out my personal views.”

During the afternoon portion of the hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) attempted to bring decorum, asking Jackson about the significance of her nomination.

Jackson offered that her appointment and having diversity on the bench allows the opportunity for role models.

“I have received so many notes and letters and photos from little girls around the country who tell me that they are so excited for this opportunity,” Jackson said. “Because I am a woman, a Black woman, all of those things, people have said, have been really meaningful to them.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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