Ketanji Brown Jackson deserved respect, instead she received hostility

In her confirmation hearing, questions directed toward Jackson were focused more on the current political climate than her legal experience.

Amanda Frese, Managing Editor

Following her Supreme Court confirmation hearing, videos surged on social media of Ted Cruz, R-Tex., sipping on a Dr. Pepper while discussing the children’s book “Anti-Racist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi on enlarged pages in order to question Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson about her stance on critical race theory. 

This scene might seem satirical, however, it is the unfortunate reality of the conversation that ensued during Jackson’s confirmation hearing. Responding to Cruz’s questions about “Anti-Racist Baby” and other books addressing race theory, Jackson stated, “Senator, I have not reviewed any of those books or any of those ideas, they do not come up in my work as a judge, which I am respectfully here to address.” 

Jackson’s qualifications and experience as a judge were disrespected through irrelevant questions on current political divisions, such as Cruz’s mention of critical race theory, from members of the Senate. Rather than respecting Jackson, as well as the role of a Supreme Court justice, disagreements on party issues overshadowed the ability of the Republican Party to objectively carry out nomination hearings without creating further political polarization and disrespecting a well-qualified candidate for the Supreme Court. 

‘UNIMPEACHABLE QUALIFICATIONS’ 

Jackson served in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Vice Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and held positions as not only a public defender, but a Supreme Court clerk, according to the White House. She received an education from Harvard Law and served in all positions with bipartisan confirmations.  

However, despite her extensive qualifications for this position, Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., announced his decision to oppose Jackson’s confirmation, stating that “she will rubber stamp Biden’s far-left agenda instead of protecting the Constitution and our Kansas values.” 

While asking that Jackson remain impartial to the Constitution, Marshall addressed the temporary culture war that is “the far-left agenda,” rather than Jackson’s actual qualifications for her position in the U.S. Supreme Court. Although Jackson shows extensive experience in the justice system, Marshall’s decision to oppose her confirmation reveals that political division and hyperpolarization continue to divide the Senate.

A DISRESPECTFUL CONFIRMATION HEARING 

Many Republican senators questioned Jackson about her role in the U.S. Sentencing Commission, portraying a supposed leniency on sentencing child sex abusers, as well as her stance on abortion rights, gun control and issues on race and gender, according to The New York Times. However, these questions were asked with the intention to categorize Jackson as a pawn for “Biden’s far-left agenda,” as Marshall stated, or to include her in a soft-on-crime narrative applied to Democrats in the political sphere. 

In addition to hostile questions hardly regarding her experience, Jackson was asked to describe the degree of her religious faith on a numerical scale, as well as her definition of the word “woman,” according to The New York Times. These questions did not address her years of experience in the legal system, as well as her work as a public defender—a position in which Jackson was required to pinpoint constitutional breaches and failures of justice at the trial level, according to The Los Angeles Times

Had the Senate focused on Jackson’s insight into Constitutional law, rather than partisan issues, this hearing would have respected not only Jackson, but the entire judicial system. 

NEED FOR RESPECT 

Despite evident hostility, Jackson showed consideration and respect for her peers, always answering with a dedication to legal principle and Constitutional values. As shown in her response to Cruz’s questions about critical race theory, Jackson remained tentative to the purpose of a confirmation hearing—to investigate her ability to work as a judge. 

During the confirmation, Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, referenced a quote from Texas Gov. Ann Richards about Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire’s dance partner, “She did everything that Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels,” according to the L.A. Times. Booker’s words to Jackson affirmed that her ability to withstand the uncomfortable, hostile questions from the Senate floor and throughout her entire career as a woman of color, mean that she has been required to work harder, smarter and show tolerance toward those who do not show the same respect to her. This, in addition to her extensive experience and insight into Constitutional law, make her more-than qualified for the position of Supreme Court justice.

There are questions, such as the ones in this hearing, that veered off topic due to a political narrative that pre-supposed division. For the sake of humanizing and listening to differing perspectives, especially as college students at Biola who are continuing to form political ideas, it is crucial to be cautious of ideologies and arguments that cause division, as well as devalue others.

 

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