President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, is facing another round of questions from lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the third day of her historic confirmation hearings and final day of questioning.
Two senators from the panel —Democrat Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Republican Thom Tillis of North Carolina — will have 30 minutes to ask questions. Following their time, each senator on the panel will be given 20 minutes for additional questions.
“This is a tough assignment, and many have risen to the challenge but none as well as you did yesterday. Thank you for doing it so much,” committee chair Dick Durbin said as he opened Wednesday’s hearing. “I would say this, much of what we heard from a handful of senators yesterday has to be put in context.”
“The overwhelming majority of senators on both sides, I thought, were asking appropriate questions and positive in their approach and respectful of the nominee before us. But for many senators yesterday was an opportunity to showcase talking points for the November election. For example, all Democrats are soft on crime, therefore this nominee must be soft on crime. Well, you’ve made a mess of their stereotype,” he continued.
What happened yesterday: Tuesday featured a marathon first round of questioning that stretched late into the evening as Republicans grilled Jackson on her judicial philosophy, her legal record and past defense work, and support for her nomination from left-wing groups.
Jackson defended her record amid sharp questioning from Republican senators. She refuted claims from Republicans that she is weak on crime by stressing her concern for public safety and the rule of law, both as a judge and an American.
“Crime, and the effects on the community, and the need for law enforcement — those are not abstract concepts or political slogans to me,” she said.
She responded to concerns raised by Republicans over the potential for judicial activism by arguing that she approaches her work in an impartial way and emphasizing that it would be inappropriate to impose any kind of personal opinion or policy preference.
“When I get a case, I ensure that I am proceeding from a position of neutrality,” she said.
Jackson also discussed elements of her tenure in the legal profession that have attracted particular scrutiny —and criticism — from Republicans.
Describing her work as a public defender, Jackson said, “I was in the federal public defender’s office right after the Supreme Court decided that individuals who were detained at Guantanamo Bay by the President could seek review of their detention.”
She added, “Federal public defenders don’t get to pick their clients. They have to represent whoever comes in and it’s a service. That’s what you do as a federal public defender, you are standing up for the constitutional value of representation.”
Jackson also forcefully rebutted concerns voiced by some GOP senators over her record on sentencing in child pornography cases, referring to the issue as a “sickening and egregious crime.”