Opinion: What kind of justice will Ketanji Brown Jackson be?

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is an eminently qualified public servant with distinguished experience as a federal judge, and her historic nomination promises an end to the erasure of Black women from our most sacred legal institutions. She brings extensive litigation experience at every level of the federal court system, including distinguished service as a federal public defender. As a district court judge, she ruled on over 550 cases and is renowned for her careful, methodical approach to ensuring equal justice under the law on reproductive rights, disability rights and workers’ rights.

Frankly, this is a nomination that should unite the country. Diversity strengthens the integrity of the institution to the broader public and, in particular, the many Black women who face many of the harshest injustices of our system today. It’s critical for the US Supreme Court to understand the impact of its rulings in the real world, and it can’t do that until it reflects the country it governs. Jackson will move us closer to a more fair and just system for women, for Black Americans and for everyone on the side of equality before the law.

It is incumbent upon US senators to give her a fair and timely confirmation without obstruction, honoring their constitutional duty to advise and consent — and their moral duty to treat her with the respect and dignity she deserves.

​​Fatima Goss Graves is president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center.

Elie Honig: A nominee Republicans will be hard-pressed to oppose

First things first: it’s about time. It’s long past time. For the first time in the history of the US Supreme Court, a Black woman has been nominated as a Justice.

And, to be clear, you will not find a more qualified nominee than Judge (likely soon-to-be Justice) Kentaji Brown Jackson. She graduated from Harvard, both undergrad and law school. She clerked for a federal district court judge and then, in a nice bit of symmetry, nabbed a mega-prestigious clerkship with Justice Stephen Breyer, who she now stands to replace.
She worked in private practice and for the US Sentencing Commission before she became a federal district court judge in 2013. Last year, she was nominated as a federal appellate judge, winning confirmation with 53 votes, including three Republicans. I have seen her in action on the bench, and I came away exceptionally impressed. In the case I covered, she was prepared, sharp, incisive and fair.

Senate Republicans can act one of two ways in the wake of Jackson’s nomination. They can dig in and oppose it, but they don’t have much of substance to work with — and they’ll likely lose anyway, given the current Democratic Senate majority (which will presumably be coupled with the votes of three Republicans who supported her federal appellate judgeship).

Or Republicans can pick their battles and throw their support behind Jackson, given her qualifications and the seeming inevitably of her confirmation. Maybe it seems quaint — Breyer himself was confirmed by an 87 to 9 vote back in 1994, which now seems impossible — but it also could be smart politics.

Elie Honig is a CNN senior legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor, and author of “Hatchet Man: How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutor’s Code and Corrupted the Justice Department.”

Ed Whelan: Senate Republicans have an opportunity here

In selecting Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to fill Stephen Breyer’s seat on the Supreme Court, President Joe Biden has fulfilled his campaign pledge to nominate the first female African American justice.

Biden selected Jackson for additional reasons, of course. Jackson has impressive credentials, and Biden likely feels confident that Jackson will implement the results-oriented, make-it-up-as-you-go-along “living constitutionalism” that progressives espouse.

Biden has already demonstrated that differences in judicial philosophy justify efforts to oppose the confirmation of the first female African American justice. Back in 2005, he even threatened to filibuster President George W. Bush’s possible nomination of DC Circuit judge Janice Rogers Brown to the Supreme Court.

The left is likely to make accusations of racism and sexism in response to any concerns expressed over Jackson’s vision of the judicial role. But if Senate Republicans assess Jackson on the basis of judicial philosophy, and don’t succumb to political pressure because of her race and sex, they will responsibly fulfill their constitutional duty to advise and consent.

The Democrats have control of the Senate, albeit slim control, so Jackson will almost certainly be confirmed. The process will probably be rather quiet. But Senate Republicans should use the opportunity to emphasize that judging is a craft that is distinct from policymaking. They can reinforce the message that the duty of a Supreme Court justice is to discern and apply the meaning that constitutional and statutory provisions bore when they were adopted, not to rewrite those provisions to advance an ideological agenda.

Ed Whelan holds the Antonin Scalia Chair in Constitutional Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. A former law clerk to Justice Scalia, he is co-editor of “The Essential Scalia: On the Constitution, the Courts, and the Rule of Law” and of two other volumes of Scalia’s work.

Laura Coates: The power of seeing a former public defender nominated

For me, the power of seeing a Black woman nominated to the highest court in the land is without equal. But what is also extraordinary is that she will be a former federal public defender — a position she held for 2 1/2 years — in a country with a legal system still aspiring to be a justice system.

As a prosecutor, I wielded a tremendous amount of power in the exercise of my discretion to pursue (or decline to pursue) charges and autonomy in the way I met my burden of proof. But like the power held by a co-equal branch of government, the power of prosecutors must be checked — not to disrupt the pursuit of justice but to further it. In a country where race and bias are far too frequently elevated above fairness, public defenders are the welcome foil to balance the system.

The relationship between public defenders and prosecutors may be necessarily adversarial, but it is always symbiotic. Prosecutors get all the credit (and blame) for ensuring accountability, as if they alone believe in it.

The public may mistakenly view those who represent the accused as soft on crime. Indeed, if past is prologue, I expect such an absurd talking point to emerge during Jackson’s confirmation hearings. But public defenders are not soft on crime — they are hard on injustice, which is precisely where we as a society must be. And precisely where a Supreme Court justice ought to be.

I sincerely hope Jackson is afforded the dignity she ensured for the presumed innocent: due process, fairness, equal protection from an abuse of power and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. After all, it’s the US Supreme Court.

Laura Coates is a CNN senior legal analyst and author of “Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor’s Fight For Fairness.” She is a former assistant US attorney for the District of Columbia and trial attorney in the civil rights division of the Department of Justice. Coates is the host of the daily “Laura Coates Show” on SiriusXM. Follow her @thelauracoates.

Jeffrey Toobin: What kind of justice will Ketanji Brown Jackson be?

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One thing that’s always said when there’s a US Supreme Court nomination is that presidents are often surprised by how their choices turn out. Presidents think the future justice will vote one way, and they wind up voting another way.

Don’t believe it. Especially in recent years, the art of picking Supreme Court justices has been refined to a science. All nine of the current justices largely vote in ways that would please the presidents who nominated them. That’s likely to be true if Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed as well.

The myth of the surprised president dates principally from the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, who nominated Earl Warren and William Brennan to the Supreme Court and found, to his dismay, that they were both powerful and outspoken liberals.

Here’s one thing to know about the Eisenhower administration: it was a long time ago. In those days, the court was not the public political battleground that it has become, and Eisenhower’s choices were motivated more by politics than ideology. (Eisenhower had promised the seat to Warren, then the governor of California, and he chose Brennan to appeal to Catholic voters on the eve of his 1956 reelection.)

It’s true that President George H.W. Bush’s appointment of David Souter in 1990 ranks as a modest surprise, but his behavior as a moderate on the court was consistent with both his own earlier record as a judge and Bush’s overall approach to social issues. Also, 1990 was a long time ago.

In recent years, though, as the court has become the focus of fights on such issues as abortion, guns and affirmative action, ideology has become the main criteria for selections. Presidents (as well as their advisers and supporters) care a great deal about the possibility of ideological mistakes. So they don’t make them. President Joe Biden wanted a judicial liberal, and that’s what he will get with Jackson. She will not surprise him, or us.

Jeffrey Toobin is CNN’s chief legal analyst and the author of “The Nine” and “The Oath.”

A’shanti F. Gholar: An important step in addressing racial injustice

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination is an important step in addressing the injustices in the US judicial system, but it’s not the only step we need to take. America’s legal system has always looked different for Black women, who have historically been discriminated against. That will not change until we see more Black women jurists like Jackson in positions of legal power, and that begins with empowering Black women to be the leaders they deserve to be.

Jackson is the ideal role model in this regard. Her record is one that has championed equity and justice . She fought to defend the rights of incarcerated individuals, issued rulings that protected labor and women’s rights and upheld the integrity of our constitution when it was under attack by the Trump administration.

Along with her wealth of judicial expertise, she also brings with her experiences and identities that have never been enjoyed by another Supreme Court justice — and have been sorely missed in the highest court in America. I look forward to her swift approval process through the US Senate and hopefully to her being seated on a bench that doesn’t require her to bring her own folding chair.

A’shanti F. Gholar, former national deputy director of community engagement and director of African American Engagement for the Democratic National Committee, is the president of Emerge, an organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office.

Erwin Chemerinsky: Jackson may be the stabilizing force the Supreme Court needs

President Joe Biden simply could not have done better than his choice of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the United States Supreme Court. In the world of law, credentials don’t get better than hers. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, she clerked for judges in the federal district court and the federal court of appeals. She was also a clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer, who she is now poised to replace. Jackson has had extensive experience in a variety of settings and has served as a federal judge since 2013.

She also brings to the court experiences and perspectives the current justices lack. Most obviously, she is the first Black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Jackson will also be the only justice on the current court to have worked as a public defender. She has significant experience as a trial judge, something only Justice Sonia Sotomayor has among those now on the high court.

As I think about what makes for a great justice, Jackson has it all: keen intelligence, enormous experience, unquestionable integrity, a terrific judicial temperament and a vision of justice. She should be confirmed swiftly by the Senate and start what will hopefully be a long career on the Supreme Court. Many will rightfully point out the fact that she won’t change the current ideological balance of the court by replacing Breyer. But if Jackson is still a justice in 2040 and 2050, she may be a stabilizing force on a very different court.

Erwin Chemerinsky is dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. He is the author of “Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights.”

Jennifer Rodgers: The Supreme Court needs more diversity. Justice Jackson offers just that

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee to fill the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the Supreme Court, has it all. She is a highly accomplished lawyer and an experienced jurist with the sterling educational and clerkship credentials expected of someone about to ascend to the pinnacle of the legal profession. And, as a Black woman, Jackson will bring a historic perspective and important representation to the nation’s highest court.

Jackson shares all of the above characteristics with the other two final candidates Biden was considering: California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger and US District Judge J. Michelle Childs. All three women are also 55 or under; nominating someone relatively young has become close to mandatory in recent years for Supreme Court nominees of presidents of both parties since justices can serve for life. But what distinguishes Jackson from the others, and what very well may have led to her selection, is her service as a criminal defense lawyer, both as a federal public defender and in private practice. She offers the kind of professional diversity that has become one of the calling cards of Biden’s judicial nominations strategy.

Biden is right to prioritize elevating judges who bring different backgrounds and experiences to the courts, especially to the Supreme Court, where not a single justice has Jackson’s experience defending criminal cases. The Supreme Court needs more diversity, of all kinds; hopefully Jackson will be the first step in making that become a reality.

Jennifer Rodgers is a former federal prosecutor, adjunct professor of clinical law at NYU School of Law, lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School and a CNN legal analyst.

Elliot Williams: Jackson’s airtight resume is GOP kryptonite

The legal profession is plagued by elitism. It’s easy for me to say this, having attended Ivy League schools myself, but prestigious academic institutions do not confer much of anything that can’t be gained from other schools.

Of the nine justices currently on the Supreme Court, however, eight have degrees from Harvard or Yale. If confirmed, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who has two Harvard degrees, will perpetuate the Ivies’ dominance on the Supreme Court.

While I will be the first to argue that the Supreme Court desperately needs justices with more varied educational backgrounds, in Jackson’s case, her credentials from an elite institution are a good thing.

Here’s why. Shortly after President Joe Biden announced he would fulfill his promise to put a Black woman on the court — an uncontroversial statement given past presidents’ commitments to make barrier-breaking nominations — a US senator went on the record to call the eventual nominee a “beneficiary” of affirmative action. Another senator expressed doubts about whether the nominee would know “a law book from a J. Crew catalog.” A prominent conservative took to Twitter and predicted the nominee would be a “lesser black woman.” (He later deleted the tweets and apologized, calling it “inartful.”)

At their cores, each of these statements was a manifestation of disbelief that — gasp! — a Black woman might be just as qualified as any other previous nominee to serve on the Supreme Court.

Black people face enough barriers in workplaces as it is. For instance, job applicants with “Black-sounding” names are less likely to get interviewed than their White counterparts, and Black women with natural hairstyles are seen as less professional and competent. I speak firsthand in saying that being Black and successful in America is a constant exercise in having to prove you are worthy. That struggle doesn’t end in the marble halls of the Supreme Court.

If, today, Jackson’s having two Harvard degrees and an otherwise airtight resume is what it takes to quiet at least some of the criticism, then so be it.

Elliot Williams is a CNN legal analyst. He is a former deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department. Follow him on Twitter @elliotcwilliams.

Raul A. Reyes: A justice who sees the basic humanity of immigrants

In Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden has put forth a US Supreme Court nominee with impeccable credentials and a stellar legal background.

In addition to her degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, she brings diverse professional experience to the high court; she has worked at large and small firms, as a public defender, and served on the US Sentencing Commission, where she backed a proposal to reduce federal drug trafficking sentences. This type of varied experience will serve her well on a court that often seems out of touch and has seen its public approval rating drop.
According to Associated Press polling, the majority of African Americans say it’s very or extremely important that a Black woman serves on the Supreme Court, and the President has now delivered on a key promise.
Jackson will likely earn support from Latino advocacy groups as well, as our communities have much in common in the struggle for civil rights and social justice.

Jackson’s rulings on immigration are also important, as congressional inaction and legal challenges to immigration policy have given the Supreme Court an outsized role on this issue.

Although in several cases she sought to protect the rights of migrants, she also denied a challenge to Trump’s border wall — so no one can accuse her of favoring “open borders.” Most importantly, whether ruling for or against migrants, Jackson has avoided using terms like “illegals” or “aliens.” As the National Immigration Law Center notes, this acknowledges the basic humanity of immigrants.

The Supreme Court holds immense power over our daily lives, on issues ranging from health care to the environment to reproductive and voting rights. At a time when many Americans have lost faith in institutions, Jackson will help restore trust and stability to the high court. Her historic nomination deserves bipartisan support.

Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and a member of the USA Today board of contributors. Follow him on Twitter @RaulAReyes.

Laphonza Butler: What Jackson proves about breaking the mold

President Joe Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman Supreme Court nominee in the court’s history is a tremendous moment for America. After a rigorous process, Jackson has proven that she has the experience and character to do this vital job.

As a Black woman, I am thrilled for what this means for me, my daughter and my community.

While I rejoice in the historic nature of her nomination, I also want to celebrate the incredible qualifications Jackson brings to this role. A daughter of teachers, she went to Harvard Law School, has served in nearly every part of our legal system and brings that kind of well-rounded experience that we need on the highest court. It’s no wonder that she has been confirmed three times on a bipartisan vote.
Unfortunately, even being an impeccably qualified nominee who has been praised by both former President Barack Obama for being an “unwavering voice for justice and fairness” and by former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who gave her “unequivocal” praise for her integrity and intellect, Jackson will almost certainly face racist and sexist comments that come with being the first.

At EMILY’s List, we have seen far too many history-makers and ground-breakers have their accomplishments questioned and their qualifications undermined. But we know what Jackson’s example proves: to be the first and to break the mold, you bring qualifications, experience and character that is unrivaled.

I am proud to support her and look forward to the legacy she will hopefully create on the court.

Laphonza Butler is the president of EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics. Butler grew up in Magnolia, Mississippi and served as a union leader and adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign.

Adam White: Jackson’s nomination gives senators an important incentive

Adam White

Every US Supreme Court nomination presents an opportunity for Americans and our elected leaders to reflect on the court’s crucial, singular role in American government: to decide cases under the rule of law, according to the constitution and laws of our country.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was recognized as the frontrunner for this seat because she is a respected judge on one of the nation’s most important courts. Her discussions with US senators, in visits and in the public hearing, will be an ideal forum for serious constitutional debate.

Judicial nominees are rightly reluctant to prejudge issues, especially when the nominee is a sitting judge. If Jackson follows this tradition, then senators will have all the more incentive to ask her about the bigger picture: her view of the court’s role in government and its responsibility to faithfully interpret the laws as written.

In an era when the Supreme Court is enduring partisan attacks on its legitimacy, and facing dangerous threats to pack the court for partisan purposes, it is crucial for senators — and all Americans — to know that the next justice is committed to preserving the rule of law and the court’s indispensable constitutional role.

Adam White is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In 2021, President Joe Biden appointed him to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Mini Timmaraju: A smart choice for upholding reproductive freedom

The nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson — the first Black woman ever nominated to the US Supreme Court — is an historic and exciting moment.
She is an immensely qualified judge who will bring a new, much-needed and long-overdue perspective to the court. Not only that, Jackson has a demonstrated record of upholding reproductive freedom, a critical consideration with the right to abortion facing unprecedented attacks.
Jackson’s nomination comes at a pivotal moment for the court. Her confirmation won’t change the balance of the court or the outcome of the looming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — the case directly challenging Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion. However, we must seize this chance to confirm a justice who will work to protect our most cherished rights and freedoms and help to shape the future of our country in the decades to come.

The anti-choice movement and its political allies spent decades working to install their ideologues on our nation’s highest court. The confirmations of Trump’s justices to the Supreme Court cemented a majority that is unmistakably hostile to abortion, and that won’t be easily undone. But confirming justices like Jackson is how we move closer to a future in which all of our families and communities thrive — a future in which there is equal justice for all of us.

With so much on the line, we can’t leave anything on the table in our fight to confirm Jackson to the court.

Mini Timmaraju is the President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, an organization that advocates for abortion access in USA.

Paul Callan: Timing is everything

​​With Russian troops on the march in Ukraine, Americans have not been sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting to see whom President Joe Biden will nominate to the US Supreme Court.

Instead, they are glued to their television sets wondering if Russian President Vladimir Putin is crazy enough to trigger World War III in his quest to rebuild the former Soviet Union.

Biden’s attempt to change the subject from war, inflation and the economy to the Supreme Court may hurt Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation prospects. The timing of this announcement means the White House has lost an important opportunity to rally the public behind Jackson before Republicans go on the offensive.

No doubt, Biden’s nominee is highly qualified for the position. Jackson checks all the right boxes — she holds a Harvard Law degree, clerked for federal judges and served as a public defender. She now sits as a federal appellate judge on the prestigious DC Circuit Court. She appears to be widely respected in the legal profession, and progressives have already applauded Biden’s decision to nominate her. Republicans, on the other hand, are likely to say that she is too radical for the Supreme Court.

Ironically, her biggest obstacle to a swift confirmation is more likely to be Putin than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. With Americans more focused on the war in Ukraine than the Supreme Court, Jackson’s confirmation is unlikely to get the attention it deserves. Americans will need an opportunity to get to know Jackson, and the initial publicity surrounding any nominee serves an important educational purpose. Without that public support, Jackson could be more vulnerable to damaging attacks from the GOP.

Announcing Jackson’s nomination at this moment, given the current crisis in Ukraine, is a rookie mistake for a president languishing in the polls. As a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden seems to have forgotten that even in the selection process for Supreme Court nominees, timing is everything.

Paul Callan is a CNN legal analyst, a former New York homicide prosecutor and counsel to the New York law firm of Edelman & Edelman PC, focusing on wrongful conviction and civil rights cases. Follow him on Twitter @paulcallan.

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Ketanji Brown Jackson: The personal and legal record of the front-runner for the SCOTUS job

The new administration was poised to prioritize judicial vacancies and planned to push through slates of nominees that would send a message about how the President viewed the courts. Stellar credentials were essential, but Biden also wanted candidates who would bring a fresh professional and demographic diversity to benches across the country dominated by White males. He sought nominees who had worked as public defenders and civil rights attorneys, for instance.

Jackson — then serving on a federal trial court in Washington, DC — fit the bill perfectly. She had a glittering resume that included Harvard degrees and federal clerkships, but her lived experience was rooted in public service.

Looming in the future was the possibility that Justice Stephen Breyer would retire from the Supreme Court, and the federal appeals court in Washington has been a stepping stone for high court nominees.

Biden had pledged to make history by naming a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Such an historic move would highlight a group of female potential nominees who have breached barriers to reach the top of the legal profession. Jackson, who is African American and a former Breyer clerk, would likely be a top contender for that seat. An appeals court post would serve to further season her and boost her profile.

Asked about race during her confirmation hearing last year, Jackson responded carefully. She said that she didn’t think race played a role in the kind of judge that she had been or would be, but she thought her professional background, especially as a trial court judge, would bring value.

“I’ve experienced life in perhaps a different way than some of my colleagues because of who I am, and that might be valuable,” she said. “I hope it would be valuable if I was confirmed to the circuit court.” Last June, the Senate confirmed Jackson by a 53-44 vote.
Now, Jackson, 51, is believed to be at the top of Biden’s list of potential candidates to replace Breyer, who intends to retire at the end of the current Supreme Court term.

“The bench of Black women attorneys with stellar credentials is extremely deep,” said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center. But, she noted, Jackson brings more than just a distinguished judicial record.

She has “an understanding of how the law affects people based on both her professional and lived experiences, and a powerful commitment to equal justice,” Wydra said.

Jackson has served as an assistant federal public defender, a commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a lawyer in private practice and on two prestigious federal courts.

If elevated to the high court, she would follow in the footsteps of the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who took the seats of the justices they had worked for.

Jackson clerked for Breyer during the 1999 term after serving as a clerk in 1997-1998 to Judge Bruce M. Selya, a federal judge in Massachusetts.

At an event in 2017 sponsored by the liberal American Constitution Society, she called working for Breyer an opportunity of a lifetime “to bear witness to the workings of his brilliant legal mind.” She also joked about how the justice often biked to work and would show up in his majestic chamber wearing “full bicycle regalia.”

Jackson often speaks about areas of her expertise in the law, when she addresses audiences, but she also talks about diversity and work-life balance.

Biden said he will put a Black woman on the Supreme Court. Here's who he may pick to replace Breyer

In a 2017 speech at the University of Georgia School of Law, she reflected on her journey as a mother and a judge, emphasizing how hard it is for mothers to serve in big law firms — something she said she had done at times to help support her family.

She noted that the hours are long and there is little control over the schedule, which is “constantly in conflict with the needs of your children and your family.” She also highlighted the traps of launching a career in the law and pointed to recent studies that show that lawyers of color — both male and female — constitute only 8% of law firm equity partners nationwide.

Glittering resume

Jackson left law firm life behind in 2010 to become a commissioner on the US Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that establishes sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts. She has said she learned to knit during her Senate confirmation process to channel her nervous energy.

Rachel Barkow, now a professor of law at New York University, served with Jackson on the bipartisan commission and noted pointedly how well the members worked together despite ideological differences. Another commissioner at the time was William H. Pryor Jr., a conservative judge who sits on the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Barkow said Jackson was an “upbeat presence” who always does “what she is supposed to do, when she says she is going to do it.”

At the time, federal prisons were over capacity, and there was widespread bipartisan acknowledgement that federal drug sentences were too long. The seven-member body unanimously decided to lower federal drug sentences. They made the reductions retroactive, Barkow said, which meant more than 30,000 federal prisoners got lower sentences.

President Barack Obama would go on to nominate Jackson to the US District Court for the District of Columbia, which she joined in 2013. For that confirmation hearing, she was introduced by a well-known Republican, Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan, who would go on to become speaker of the House and who happened to be related to her by marriage. (Jackson’s husband’s twin brother is married to the sister of Ryan’s wife.)

“I know she is clearly qualified,” Ryan said. “But it bears repeating just how qualified she is.”

“Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character, for her integrity, is unequivocal,” he added.

At each of her judicial confirmation hearings, her husband, Patrick Jackson, a DC-based surgeon, has been pictured sitting behind her. The couple share two daughters, Talia and Leila. Her mother, a former public school science teacher and principal of a public magnet school in South Florida, and her father, a public high school teacher who was later chief counsel to the Miami-Dade County school board, also have been in attendance.

One thing she did not discuss was the life sentence her uncle, Thomas Brown, Jr., received after a drug offense.

In 2008, when she was in private practice and well before she became a judge, Jackson referred her uncle’s file to WilmerHale, a law firm that handles numerous clemency petitions, according to a spokesperson for the firm.

The firm submitted the petition on Brown’s behalf on October 7, 2014, and Obama commuted his sentence on November 22, 2016. According to the firm, Jackson had “no further involvement in the matter” after making the referral. Jackson’s chambers said she would decline comment on the issue.

Public service

At her 2021 confirmation hearing for the seat on the federal appeals court, Jackson talked about her professional trajectory, peppered with stints in public service.

Asked why she had chosen to go into public service earlier in her career, she said, “I remember thinking very clearly that I felt like I didn’t have enough of an idea of what really happened in criminal cases, I wanted to understand the system.”

“I thought it would be an opportunity to help people as well, I come from a background of public service. My parents were in public service my brother was a police officer and in the military and being in the public defenders office felt very much like the opportunity to help with my skills and talents,” Jackson added.

She said the experience had made her a better judge because she remembered that many of her clients hadn’t really understood what had happened to them in the system. As a trial judge, Jackson said, she took extra care to communicate with the defendants who came before her. “I speak to them directly,” she said, because “I want them to know what is going on.”

A.J. Kramer worked with Jackson at the Federal Public Defender’s office in DC and still keeps in touch with her. He said no current member of the Supreme Court has worked as a public defender and “seen the system from that side of the aisle”.

“It’s not that you have more or less sympathy,” Kramer said in an interview, “but that you have an idea how the system actually works.”

Confirmation hearing and discussion of race and being a judge

At her most recent Senate hearing, there were no real fireworks, but instead, an air of the inevitability of her confirmation. Republicans spent more time attacking the Biden administration or Democrats in general than targeting Jackson.

Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn did ask Jackson about professional diversity and race.

He said her experience as a trial judge would be a “very important qualification” and praised her “impressive” background. Cornyn added that it was important for the public to have confidence in the judiciary “and I think part of that confidence is knowing that people like them can serve on the bench and that we applaud that diversity.”

But Cornyn later said that “since our Democratic colleagues seem to be placing so much emphasis on race,” he wanted to know something else. “What role does race play, Judge Jackson, in the kind of judge you have been and the kind of judge you will be?”

Without skipping a beat, Jackson said, “I don’t think that race plays a role in the kind of judge that I have been and that I would be in the way you asked that question.”

“I’m looking at the arguments, the facts and the law, I’m methodically and intentionally setting aside personal views, any other inappropriate considerations and I would think that race would be the kind of thing that would be inappropriate to inject in my evaluation of a case,” she continued.

“I would say that my different professional background than many of the court of appeals judges, including my district court background,” she said, “would bring value.”

“I’ve experienced life in perhaps a different way than some of my colleagues because of who I am and that might be valuable — I hope it would be valuable if I was confirmed to the circuit court, ” she added.

Tennessee GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn brought up early rumors about the Supreme Court.

“I know you are fully aware that you are discussed regularly as a Supreme Court nominee”, Blackburn said before asking what the judge thought about recent proposals — driven by Democrats to try to dilute the conservative majority on the high court — to add more justices to the bench.

Jackson declined to comment.

In follow-up written questions, she was asked whether a number of Supreme Court cases, including those that concern abortion, religious liberty and the Second Amendment, were correctly decided. She said that as a federal judge all of the Supreme Court’s pronouncements would be binding and that it would be inappropriate to comment on the “merits or demerits” of particular cases. But she made exceptions, including for Brown v. Board of Education — the landmark 1954 opinion that struck down school segregation and the “separate but equal” doctrine. She said the ruling overturned the “manifest injustice” of Plessy v. Ferguson.

“The underlying premise of the Brown decision — i.e. that ‘separate but equal is inherently unequal’ — is beyond dispute and judges can express their agreement with that principle without calling into question their ability to apply the law faithfully to cases raising similar issues,” Jackson said.

She was also pressed on the fact that as an assistant federal public defender she represented a detainee held at Guantanamo Bay, Khi Ali Gul. She said that as an attorney she had a duty to represent her clients zealously but also was mindful of the “tragic and deplorable circumstances” that gave rise to the U.S. government’s apprehension of persons secured at Gitmo. She noted that she was “keenly aware” of the threat the September 11, 2001, attacks posed on “foundational constitutional principles “and that her own brother at the time was enlisted as a U.S. Army infantryman deployed in Iraq.

She also provided senators a citation for an interview she gave in 2007 to The Washington Post for a story about Justice Clarence Thomas — the only African American currently on the high court.

According to the article, she recalled sitting across from Thomas at lunch once — the date of the encounter was not revealed — with a quizzical expression on her face.

“Jackson, who is black, said Thomas ‘spoke the language,’ meaning he reminded her of the black men she knew. ‘But I just sat there the whole time thinking: ‘I don’t understand you. You sound like my parents. You sound like the people I grew up with.’ But the lessons he tended to draw from the experiences of the segregated South seemed to be different than those of everybody I know,'” the article read.

Republicans who ended up voting to confirm her to the DC Circuit were Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.


Through her service on the DC district and appeals courts, Jackson has been involved in recent litigation involving former President Donald Trump and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

On the appeals court, she voted against Trump when his lawyers sought to block records related to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot from going to the House select committee investigating the attack. The Supreme Court later cleared the way for the records to be released. In August, she voted to allow Biden’s eviction moratorium — put in place during the pandemic — to remain in place. The Supreme Court later blocked it over the dissent of the court’s three liberals.

While on the district court, Jackson penned more than 500 opinions.

In one notable case, she ruled against the Trump administration’s efforts to block then-White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying as part of Congress’ impeachment probe.

Judge tells Trump he's not a king -- the President is not so sure

“Presidents are not kings,” she said in the 2019 opinion, adding that the Trump administration’s assertion that it had “absolute testimonial immunity” protecting its senior level aides “is a proposition that cannot be squared with core constitutional values” and “cannot be sustained.”

She concluded that the “United States of America has a government of laws, not of men.”

In a separate case from 2018 brought by federal employee unions challenging executive orders issued by Trump, Jackson held that most but not all of the provisions in the orders conflicted with the collective bargaining rights of federal workers under federal law. Her judgment was vacated by the appeals court.

In Make the Road New York v. McAleenan, Jackson ruled against the Trump administration in a case brought by the ACLU and other immigrant rights groups that were challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to expand the categories of non-citizens who could be subject to expedited removal procedures without being able to appear before a judge. The groups said the orders had sparked fear in immigrant communities around the county. The federal appeals court agreed that Jackson’s court had the power to rule over the case, but reversed her decision, holding that DHS had the discretion to act.

She also sentenced Edgar Maddison Welch to 48 months in prison in 2017 after he fired an assault rifle inside a Washington, DC, pizzeria. He claimed he was attempting to find and rescue child sex slaves that he believed were being held at the restaurant.

“The extent of recklessness in this case is breathtaking. It is sheer luck that no one, including (Welch), was killed,” Jackson said, adding, “I’ve never seen anything like the conduct we see here today.”

CNN’s Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.

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Russia could be losing ground in battle for Mykolaiv, but it still seeks to crush what it cannot have

Villagers have standing room only, while the elderly have been rushed into a van. “Grandpa, we are here,” shouts the daughter of one local, Viktor, from the bus doorway, as he sits a little bewildered in the van. The panic is real; at any moment the shelling could resume, a bombardment that residents say has littered the southern Ukrainian village of Posad-Pokrovske with cluster munitions.

As the convoy of two vehicles hits the pockmarked road out toward the city of Mykolaiv, shells once again tar the horizon with a plume of black smoke. Sat in the back of the van, Vitali breaks down, using his grimy, orange workman’s gloves to wipe tears from his eyes.

“Civilians! They killed all the people, these are bastards, these are reptiles, parasites,” he says. “They don’t fight troops, they fight people. Do you understand? Kill everyone. Worse than the fascists.”

Next to him sits Viktor, who remembers the last time a war of this ferocity came to this part of Europe. “Of course I remember,” he says quietly. “I saw how the Germans attacked us. They didn’t bully people.”

Airstrikes, grad rockets, cluster munitions — the residents recall two weeks of intense bombardment to which the fabric of Posad-Pokrovske bears witness. Barely a building is unscathed, with most roofs missing, and one house is torn down to shreds of cloth. The village’s gas main has burst, with the intense hissing of a leak a stark reminder that the tiny settlement is no longer fit for life.

The village school has had an entire wall torn off it, stairs that once brimmed with children now echo with a ghostly crunch, as broken glass is trampled underfoot. Soldiers emerge from the doorways of some homes. The Ukrainian marines holding Posad-Pokrovske, the last settlement before the Russian positions that defend Kherson’s airport, remain vague about their positions. But their goal is clear: the airport outside Kherson, used as a Russian base, that is already being heavily battered by Ukrainian shelling.

One of these marines is Daniyel Salem, a former Lebanese soldier. Salem is married to a Ukrainian and he joined the army the moment the war began. “Our mission is to kill these m*therf**kers,” he said, joking that he would like to turn his nascent TV career into a Netflix series in which he gets to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin. “This place used to be one of joy,” he said, gesturing to the village hall around him, “where they showed movies. The life has been drained out of it.”

The road between the strategic port city of Mykolaiv and Russian-held Kherson is a testament to Ukrainian grit and Russia’s slow loss of grip on advances it once heralded. Ukraine’s forces have made significant gains along the 40-kilometer (25-mile) road between the outskirts of the two cities, and the farmland it splits is scarred with shell impacts from that intense fight. While vulnerable to another reversal, the Ukrainian gains have exposed the limits of Russian military power at the furthest reaches of its supply chains, as well as the tenacity of forces around Mykolaiv fighting for their homes, and the defense of Ukraine’s third-largest city, Odesa, which lies further west along the Black Sea coast.

Buildings are scarred with shell impacts from intense fighting.

Damaged Ukrainian armor sits outside Posad-Pekrovske, and along the road the signs of days of fighting pepper the landscape. Russian shelling also finds its target regularly, with rockets landing near the highway on several occasions witnessed by CNN, the brush set aflame. Ukrainian artillery was also observed in action Sunday, firing toward the north of Kherson.

The Ukrainian progress has refreshed life in the city of Mykolaiv, with stores reopening and usurping the fear of encirclement that haunted the past week. Vitaly Kim, the regional head whose regular Telegram messages have rallied Mykolaiv to wartime unison and also alerted the city to daily changing threats, has appeared more relaxed. On Saturday, Kim posted pictures of a pair of socks he had been sent with “Russian ship, go F**k yourself” stitched onto them, in reference to the defiant defenders of Snake Island. For his birthday last week, the governor was given a convertible car with a captured Russian machine gun soldered onto its trunk, which his police chief still drives triumphantly around the city.

On Sunday, Kim appealed to locals to help pick up the corpses of dead Russian soldiers that had been left behind in the battlefield, asking residents to put them in bags before the temperatures rose above freezing. Kim sent CNN a series of pictures of the abandoned bodies, adding: “There are hundreds of them, all over the region.”

Yet Ukraine’s slow advance toward Kherson has also come at heavy cost. On Friday morning, a huge blast ripped through two military facilities near the center of Mykolaiv, the apparent missile strike ripping one barracks in two and reducing another to rubble. Ukraine’s military has not released a death toll from the strike, citing operational security. But two military officials told CNN the death toll likely was as high as 30. A medical official also said 40 were injured. 

Damaged armor sits outside Posad-Pekrovske.

One trauma unit took in many of the injured, its beds overflowing Friday afternoon. One soldier, his eye bandaged and head blooded, asks for his wounded friends by name. Another, Alexander, had both legs broken when the building he was sleeping in partially collapsed. “I was on the third floor,” he says. “When it hit, everything fell apart … I found myself on the second floor, in my t-shirt and underwear,” Alexander adds. He rubs his eyes to disguise tears, then continues: “We know the enemy, you must finally see and hear. I don’t know. How many deaths does it take for everyone to see?”

The shelling continued over the weekend, with Saturday’s dusk lit up by tracer fire and at least eight shells hitting one target to the city’s south. Moscow may be losing ground here, but it does all it can to crush and stifle what it cannot have.

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Melania Trump’s Mar-a-Lago: Reserved and restful

In CNN Special Report “Woman of Mystery: Melania Trump,” White House Reporter Kate Bennett lands rare access inside the East Wing. Watch Friday, June 14 at 9 pm ET.

Palm Beach, Florida

President Donald Trump might use his Mar-a-Lago visits to golf, entertain dignitaries and schmooze with his powerful friends, but for his wife, Melania Trump, the idea is to be invisible. The private quarters are just that – private – and reserved for just her, her husband and their son.

Mar-a-Lago is her respite.

The family compound of the Trump orbit at the approximately 20-acre estate-turned-private club nestled on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach, Florida, are relatively modest, as far as their homes go, according to a member familiar with the layout.

The suites of rooms aren’t vastly expansive in terms of square-footage – tiny compared to the three floors of the Trump Tower family penthouse in Manhattan and a fraction of the four floors of the Executive Residence of the White House. There is a coziness to the place, even if it is one of the largest estates in Florida.

There is no private pool for the family, no private spa, no separate driveway. In fact, the proximity to the rest of the guests, many of whom have known one another socially for a period of time, breeding the club-like atmosphere, is both surprising and familial.

The heavily secured area, like most of the property, is essentially attached to the rest of the club’s facilities, where members and member-guests can stroll about, dine, socialize, frequent the vast outdoor facilities, the tennis courts, the croquet courts or the Beach Club.

President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is the shiny penny of his wealth, a sprawling example of what he has acquired, the literal interpretation of showing off. He rarely leaves its confines, with the exception of golfing at his club. Melania Trump is loathe to leave the grounds, too, it turns out, and spends most of her vacation days on property, secluded from the hoi polloi members, mostly having quality time with her son and her parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who also spend a decent portion of the year at Mar-a-Lago.

Over the Christmas holiday, the first lady spent three weeks out of the public eye at Mar-a-Lago, save for the approximately four days she was in Washington and on a surprise visit to troops in Iraq. This month, for spring break, she has been away from Washington at Mar-a-Lago since March 19, and is scheduled to return Sunday evening. Her year is peppered with mini-breaks there, too – the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Easter, Thanksgiving.

Yet, like many things with Trump, there remains a screen of privacy around her visits down here, an oblique notion that she is off somewhere, for large chunks of time away from the White House, doing whatever she sees fit to do, at her own pace, on her own schedule, unrelated to that of her husband, or his priorities or habits – an independent way of life that has become the calling card of this administration’s first lady.

“She has a long history with Palm Beach, yes, but she stays to herself for most part,” said Laurence Leamer, part-time Palm Beach resident and author of “Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace.”

Leamer has long been a chronicler of Trump and his Palm Beach habits, even pre-presidential, and, as such, those of Trump’s third wife.

“All these ladies in Palm Beach,” said Leamer, speaking generally of the overtly monied set of denizens in one of the country’s wealthiest towns, “they go to Worth Avenue to shop, they dress up and they pay these exorbitant prices for clothes and things, and that’s part of the scene. That’s what they do here, that’s the life. But not Melania Trump.”

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort doubles fees

When Trump departed Washington for Mar-a-Lago earlier this month, her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN spring break at the property was “an annual tradition” for the family.

There are few who would argue against Trump’s fierce commitment to her 13-year-old son to provide as “normal” a life as she possibly can for him. As such, Trump hasn’t diverted from the occasions and events that have brought her down here since he was born.

Grisham, during the 2018 Christmas holidays, which coincided with the longest government shutdown in history, said something similar when pressed by CNN about the first lady’s use of government funds to fly to and from Palm Beach and Washington (Air Force planes are required for the first lady of the United States, per security guidelines.)

“It has long been the family’s tradition to spend their Christmas holiday at Mar-a-Lago. Her plans to travel with her son to their Florida home for his winter break have not changed this year,” said Grisham at the time.

For many of the rich folk who “winter” in Palm Beach, away from chilly East Coast temperatures and snow, Palm Beach means parties and social clubs and nights on the town. But for Melania Trump, Palm Beach is hearth-centric, it’s where she makes sure things are consistent, where she can care take annual traditions and where she can hunker down, away from the headlines and chaos.

Since becoming first lady, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago days include other additions to her usual calendar of vacation and self-care. She now travels there with at least one staff member, typically Grisham, whose full title is deputy chief of staff for communications.

Trump and Grisham meet regularly while in Palm Beach, Grisham told CNN, to discuss events and off-site visits (this week Trump hosted Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Juan Guaido, the president of the country’s National Assembly, who the Trump administration recognizes as Venezuela’s acting president. She also dropped in on a local elementary school to talk about bullying with the students).

They also plan upcoming White House obligations (such as the Easter Egg Roll) and future travel. Trump is, Grisham said, in “constant communication” with her and the rest of her small East Wing team back in Washington.

Yet there is another component of her Mar-a-Lago life that is more personal than professional; it is where Trump has lengthy one-on-one time with her husband, the President.

Dinner guests at Mar-a-Lago are used to seeing them by now. The couple huddled on the candle-lit patio during dinnertime, talking, sometimes for two, three hours. Only interrupted by friends who come over to shake his hand or wish him a pleasant evening, Donald and Melania Trump are mealtime fixtures at the club’s formal outdoor restaurant, often eating dinner together both Friday and Saturday nights on weekends when Trump is in town, says a White House official.

“What married couple spends three hours together alone at dinner?” Leamer, who has observed the Trumps on several occasions rhetorically asked. “They’re there so long, other people are leaving and they’re just … there. They dine for hours. He likes a small table, a four-person table, so people can come over to say ‘hello’ but there’s not enough room to invite people to join.”

The cozy dinners at Mar-a-Lago might fly in the face of the oft-thought common perception the first couple are irretrievably detached.

“It’s extraordinary for what a public personality Trump is that part of him is very private, and so is she. I am talking in the sense he and she don’t necessarily like interlopers,” said Leamer. “Trump has always got to be the center of attention, so if you go to someone else’s party, he’s not always going to be that.”

When Trump does have dinner guests, instances of which there have been publicly circulated photographs, there is typically no more than two or three other couples, oftentimes old friends from New York, or members of his inner political circle. A creature of habit when he’s not eating alone with Melania Trump, the President isn’t looking to make new friends. Nor is he looking to widen his culinary inclinations.

Leamer writes in his book how particular Trump is about his vacation menu – and how many Mar-a-Lago chefs have rotated in and out through the years. As such, Melania Trump doesn’t challenge the kitchen either. Though she may not eat Trump’s favored blackened steaks and burgers or meatloaf, she keeps her tastes simple and healthy.

Melania Trump does, however, oversee menus for bigger family events, including Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas. But for dinners à deux, the focus is on the conversation, not the cuisine.

“Those two will go and sit at dinner, and they are in the most in-depth conversations, and will talk and sit there for hours, literally,” a White House official told CNN, confirming Leamer’s account of the first couple’s habits.

– Source:

When Donald met Melania

Mar-a-Lago was one of the first places Trump took his new girlfriend, then-Melania Knauss, when they first started dating in late 1998, early 1999, and it quickly became one of her favorite getaways, and remains so now, two decade later.

“Melania Trump is following a long tradition of first ladies seeking to escape the claustrophobic White House,” says Kate Andersen Brower, CNN contributor and author of “First Women: the Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies.” “I think she’s been more successful than most because there is so much going on in her husband’s West Wing that she can fly under the radar more than Michelle Obama or Laura Bush ever could.”

Bush had the family ranch in Crawford, Texas, Obama had Christmases in Hawaii and summers on Martha’s Vineyard, but when those first ladies vacationed, it felt planned and regimented.

“The Reagans had Rancho del Cielo or ‘Ranch in the Sky,’ ” said Brower. “But they were so attached at the hip they often went there together.”

Rarely did they spend as much time apart as do the Trumps.

Trump has Mar-a-Lago, and in the summer, when south Florida becomes sticky with heat and humidity, she can also escape to New Jersey, where she and her family have more private quarters within a private club, the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. Trump’s options are more vast, her movements more mysterious and her activities, when she’s not working with her team, more cloaked in privacy.

Trump’s desire to be away is perhaps more akin in terms of predecessors to Jacqueline Kennedy, who would spend long weekends away from the White House at Glen Ora, the 400-acre estate in Virginia horse country that the Kennedys rented.

Trumps display affection during speech

Brower writes in her book, “First Women,” “according to Jackie’s Secret Service agent, Clint Hill, between the summer of 1961 and the summer of 1962, the first lady spent nearly four months away from Washington. She often left on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning and would not return until Monday afternoon or even Tuesday morning.”

Summers for Kennedy were spent in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where the fabled Kennedy compound was located. But Jackie Kennedy, like Trump, also spent time in Palm Beach for Christmas and Easter, and she had a fondness for escaping to her family’s estate in Newport, Rhode Island, where she and John Kennedy were married.

Mar-a-Lago contains marital memories for Trump, as well. While the ceremony was held at nearby Episcopal church Bethesda-by-the-Sea, the Trumps’ lavish wedding reception in 2005 was held in the club’s gilded ballroom, which had recently completed a $42 million renovation.

Trump’s six-figure couture gown helped land her the cover of Vogue magazine, and at the reception dinner guests were served gold-flecked hors d’oeuvres, steak and lobster, and they swilled expensive Champagne. As the party spilled out into the pool area after dinner, Trump changed into a white Vera Wang slip dress, better for dancing, which the newlyweds did until the wee hours.

Mar-a-Lago also served as the backdrop for the weddings of Donald Trump, Jr, and Eric Trump – and more recently, guests opting to hold their wedding at the club are sometimes to treated to a brief audience with the President, if he’s in town.

But even when they’re with family at Mar-a-Lago, especially Donald Trump’s extended clan, those who observe the first lady say she and her parents and her son form their own impenetrable, less approachable entity.

And when she’s there for her husband, “she is on his arm, spectacularly dressed, even if just for the members to see,” said Leamer. “Mar-a-Lago is the one place where he feels truly relaxed, he feels comfortable there – and I think that’s true of her as well.”

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How to watch the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

If the historic nomination process is successful, Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

She will be formally introduced Monday after opening statements during televised hearings, followed by two days of questioning and one day of testimony from additional witnesses.

Jackson, 51, currently sits on DC’s federal appellate court and had been considered the front-runner for the vacancy since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement in January.
President Joe Biden, who vowed during the 2020 campaign to select a Black woman to the Supreme Court should a vacancy arise, has already elevated Jackson once, appointing her last year to the appeals court in DC, which is considered the second most powerful federal court in the country.
Confirmation hearings to spotlight rightward trajectory of America's highest court
Because of that appellate appointment, she’s already been through a vetting process that included an interview with the President himself. Last June, the Senate confirmed Jackson by a 53-44 vote.

If elevated to the high court, she would follow in the footsteps of the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who took the seats of the justices they had worked for.

Jackson clerked for Breyer during the 1999 term after serving as a clerk in 1997-1998 to Judge Bruce M. Selya, a federal judge in Massachusetts.

What time is the hearing set to begin?

Monday’s hearing will begin at 11 a.m. ET, with opening statements from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, an introduction of Jackson by Judge Thomas Griffith, formerly of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Lisa Fairfax, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, and Jackson’s opening statement. Committee members will begin questioning the nominee on Tuesday, starting at 9 a.m. ET. There will be hearings everyday through Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Where will it take place?

The hearings will take place in the Hart Senate Office Building.

Where can I watch it?

A livestream of the Supreme Court confirmation hearing will be featured on CNN.com without requiring a login. CNN’s special coverage of the hearing will stream live for pay TV subscribers only via CNNgo (CNN.com/go and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Samsung Smart TV and Android TV) and on the CNN mobile apps for iOS and Android.

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Leaning towers: Why do buildings tilt? And can they be fixed?

From the Tower of Pisa in Italy to Britain’s Big Ben, some of the world’s most famous buildings have a distinct list. However, architectural leanings are not confined to history.
A few modern buildings — like the 541 foot (165 meter) Montreal Tower, whose 45-degree lean makes it the tallest tilted building in the world — are intentionally inclined, but those that lean without design are a property developer’s nightmare.
The 189 foot (58 meter) Demidov Tower -- better known as the "Leaning Tower of Neviansk" -- in Russia has an obvious lean. The top of the tower is tilted 7.2 feet (2.2 meters) from the center, an incline of approximately 3 degrees.

The 189 foot (58 meter) Demidov Tower — better known as the “Leaning Tower of Neviansk” — in Russia has an obvious lean. The top of the tower is tilted 7.2 feet (2.2 meters) from the center, an incline of approximately 3 degrees. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Although most slanted skyscrapers are safe, people don’t want to live in them as leading civil engineer John Burland explained to CNN Style,

“If residents know their building is leaning, they’re not going to be very happy — unless of course it’s leaning so much that they can charge people to go up it,” says Burland, an emeritus professor in engineering at London’s Imperial College.

Burland designed the solutions that stabilized the Tower of Pisa and Big Ben.

The reason why some buildings develop a lean, and how such problems can be corrected, is a complex area of geology and engineering called geotechnics. CNN spoke to Burland to unravel the science of foundations and find out why he likens Pisa’s lean to children building blocks on carpet.

Dedicated to the Indian God Lord Shiva, the leaning temple of Huma is  thought to have been constructed between 1545 and 1560 and is part of a larger shrine, whose different parts lean to different sides. It is not known whether the temple's lean is intentional or a result of its soft riverside foundations.

Dedicated to the Indian God Lord Shiva, the leaning temple of Huma is thought to have been constructed between 1545 and 1560 and is part of a larger shrine, whose different parts lean to different sides. It is not known whether the temple’s lean is intentional or a result of its soft riverside foundations. Credit: Wikimedia

CNN: Given our modern understanding of the earth and access to technology, why do buildings still end up leaning?

Burland: “We are very sophisticated in our analysis now, but we still have to understand how mother nature works.

“Mother nature lays down ground in all sorts of variable ways and unless you actually spend the money and the time investigating the ground properly — and employ people with good knowledge and experience — then you can run into big problems.”

Recognized by Guinness World Records as the tower with the highest degree of tilt in the world, the 90 foot (27.4 meter) bell tower of this church in Germany has a 5.2 degree inclination. Although the building was built in the mid-1200s, the tower wasn't added until 1450.

Recognized by Guinness World Records as the tower with the highest degree of tilt in the world, the 90 foot (27.4 meter) bell tower of this church in Germany has a 5.2 degree inclination. Although the building was built in the mid-1200s, the tower wasn’t added until 1450. Credit: DAVID HECKER/DDP/AFP/Getty Images

CNN: Are leaning towers a common problem and are they safe?

Burland: “They’re relatively rare but I think when you are dealing with towers you do need to be extra careful because they reveal themselves in a way that a lower building wouldn’t.

A low building may settle a bit more at one end than the other, but most of that can be taken up within the building’s structure.

nr wolf big ben leaning_00000818

Most of the leaning buildings I’m involved with are not unsafe but selling space in a building that has been known to be leaning is very difficult because often the leaning is caused by some defect in construction or design.

The trouble with a tall building is that you can see it leaning, which people don’t like. It might be safe, but the owners of the building are not going to be at all happy.”

CNN: What are some of the foundation issues that can cause a tower to tilt?

Burland: “The ground may have softer or weaker spots which you haven’t detected. There can be unexpected geological faults, or you may not have gone deep enough with your ground investigation.”

There can also be design issues and, quite often, depending on the type of foundation, there’s construction control issues, for example on the installation of piles. So there are many causes of problems that range from the ground through to design right through to construction control and supervision.”

Built 900 years ago, this mosque is better known by locals as al-Hadba' -- or the hunchback -- due to its tower's distinct tilt. The 150 foot (45 meter) minaret is one of the few original elements of the medieval Nur al-Din complex, which has been placed on the World Monuments Watch due to its risk of destruction. UNESCO is working with the Iraqi government to safeguard the icon.

Built 900 years ago, this mosque is better known by locals as al-Hadba’ — or the hunchback — due to its tower’s distinct tilt. The 150 foot (45 meter) minaret is one of the few original elements of the medieval Nur al-Din complex, which has been placed on the World Monuments Watch due to its risk of destruction. UNESCO is working with the Iraqi government to safeguard the icon. Credit: KARIM SAHIB/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

CNN: Looking at modern buildings, are the geotechnical problems that occur more the fault of mother nature or human error?

Burland:”If it’s mother nature then it’s human error because they haven’t investigated it properly.

Now a famous local tourist attraction, this slanted brick and wood tower is 84 feet (25.5 meters) tall and was originally used as a water tank and -- thanks to the large clock on its top -- a time keeper. The weight of the water and the soft ground beneath the tank have caused it to lean to the southwest.

Now a famous local tourist attraction, this slanted brick and wood tower is 84 feet (25.5 meters) tall and was originally used as a water tank and — thanks to the large clock on its top — a time keeper. The weight of the water and the soft ground beneath the tank have caused it to lean to the southwest. Credit: Wikimedia

There’s this clause in most contracts about unforeseen ground conditions, which is designed to protect contractors. But if it’s unforeseen then the ground investigation, or its interpretation, has not been adequate.”

The fantastical Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague -- or "Fred and Ginger" as it's colloquially known -- was designed by American architect Frank Gehry to have an intentional lean.

The fantastical Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague — or “Fred and Ginger” as it’s colloquially known — was designed by American architect Frank Gehry to have an intentional lean. Credit: Wikimedia

CNN: How do you stabilize or center a leaning tower?

Burland: “In principle, it’s simple — and that’s the essence of genius isn’t it, simplicity — but actually it requires a lot of expertise.

You’ve got to find out why it’s leaning, so you’ve got to spend a lot of money investigating the ground around the tower (and) what’s happening over time.

The classic solutions involve what’s called compensation grouting or injecting grouting into the ground to try and lift one side of the building compared to the other. It has to be carefully controlled, and it uses very specialized equipment.

Also know as the "Gate of Europe," these twin office towers designed by American architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee rise 373 feet (114 meters) into the sky at an angle of 15 degrees.

Also know as the “Gate of Europe,” these twin office towers designed by American architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee rise 373 feet (114 meters) into the sky at an angle of 15 degrees. Credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images

Or you can cut the building at its foundation level to insert jacks and jack the building straight, that has been done many times.

At Pisa, because the ground was so incredibly soft, we did the opposite and took some ground out.

But it’s not something you rush into … you can get it terribly wrong if you haven’t got the techniques to do it properly.

Leaning 9.5 feet (2.9 meters) from its center, the "Crooked Spire Church" as it's also known was built at the end of the 13th century and completed around 1360. Although designed to be straight, it is thought that the lead weights used to cover the spire caused its green timber frame to warp and lean.

Leaning 9.5 feet (2.9 meters) from its center, the “Crooked Spire Church” as it’s also known was built at the end of the 13th century and completed around 1360. Although designed to be straight, it is thought that the lead weights used to cover the spire caused its green timber frame to warp and lean. Credit: Wikimedia/gilibean

CNN: Why was stabilizing the Tower of Pisa so difficult?

Burland: “Pisa is rather special and it becomes highly technical but the best way is to give an analogy.

The ground Pisa is built on is very compressible indeed, and the reason for its leaning can be explained by the way most children will try and build towers on the floor with wooden bricks.

Is this the world’s craziest new skyscraper?

They will know that if you are on a solid wooden floor you can build a tower that’s quite high, but if you start building it on a carpet, you can only get to a certain height and then it starts to lean. However hard you try you can never get higher.

That’s because once the tower begins to move, even a little bit, the center of gravity moves and it drives the tower even more towards the direction that it’s moving.

And that’s the reason why Pisa is leaning — it’s a bit like trying to build a tower on a soft carpet.”

The 184 foot (56 meter) high tower on the Church of Our Beloved Ladies by the Mountain in the German spa town of Bad Frankenhausen was first reported to be subsiding in historical documents from 1640. The tower has listed further to the northeast since that time and is now estimated to have a 4.8 degree lean. Fearing imminent collapse, the German government approved funding for restoration works to stabilize the structure in 2014.

The 184 foot (56 meter) high tower on the Church of Our Beloved Ladies by the Mountain in the German spa town of Bad Frankenhausen was first reported to be subsiding in historical documents from 1640. The tower has listed further to the northeast since that time and is now estimated to have a 4.8 degree lean. Fearing imminent collapse, the German government approved funding for restoration works to stabilize the structure in 2014. Credit: Eckehard Schulz/dapd

CNN: What building do you consider to be the world’s worst titled tower?

Burland: “There is a kind of joy in having the biggest leaning tower in the world … a kind of competition about who’s got the world’s biggest lean, and I think I have a wry smile about it all.

The curvaceous 540 foot (165 meter) tall Capital Gate building is now an iconic part of the Abu Dhabi skyline. Designed by British architects RMJM to tilt 18 degrees to the west -- more than four times the angle of the Tower of Pisa -- it is recognized as the "furthest-leaning man-made tower" in the world by Guinness World Records.

The curvaceous 540 foot (165 meter) tall Capital Gate building is now an iconic part of the Abu Dhabi skyline. Designed by British architects RMJM to tilt 18 degrees to the west — more than four times the angle of the Tower of Pisa — it is recognized as the “furthest-leaning man-made tower” in the world by Guinness World Records. Credit: STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Really, the fact that Pisa Tower is so magnificent and so breathtaking in its architecture — it would have been a world heritage monument even if it wasn’t leaning — I think that’s really what makes it so famous really.

So it’s fun, but none of them are as beautiful as the Pisa Tower.”

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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China’s zero-Covid policy is showing signs of strain. But ditching it now could be a disaster

Even as the rest of the world struggled to contain new, more transmissible variants, China remained an island — its borders shut and population largely untouched by the virus.

Some 12,000 new cases have been reported in the past three days alone, according to health officials, who have warned the country’s defenses are facing the highly transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.2 for the first time.

These numbers may seem small in a population of 1.4 billion and when compared to the rest of the world. But to the ruling Communist Party — which has sought to promote its ability to control the virus as evidence for its superior model of governance — the outbreak represents a significant political challenge.

To respond, China has rolled out its well-worn methods for controlling the disease: placing tens of millions of residents under some form of lockdown, shuttering factories in the tech hub of Shenzhen, constructing makeshift hospitals to isolate cases in hard-hit Jilin province and rounding up “close contacts” of cases for surveillance or quarantine.

But this approach, known broadly as “zero-Covid,” is showing signs of strain.

Already authorities have moved to revise their rule for hospitalizing all patients, in a sign they are worried their own stringent measures could quickly overwhelm the health care system. And there are also indications that the patience of the general public, which has been broadly supportive of the measures, is starting to wear thin.

For now, anyway, China’s leaders may have few other options. Authorities have spent two years focused on keeping Covid-19 out of its borders and quashing its spread. But now, as more questions are raised about the sustainability of “zero-Covid,” experts say the country remains unprepared for the alternative of “living with the virus.”

Shanghai physician Zhang Wenhong — often likened to top American epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci for his straight-talk and expertise — alluded to this dilemma last week, writing in the business journal Caixin: “We haven’t prepared anything of what we need to prepare. How could we possibly dare to ‘lie down’ (and allow the virus to spread)?”

Not prepared

To be sure, China has undertaken massive efforts to protect its people from the virus, pulling off what’s been called the largest vaccination campaign in history — developing vaccines at record speed and doling out 2.8 billion doses domestically in 2021 alone.

But despite this, there are both critical gaps in Beijing’s vaccination effort and unresolved questions about how well China’s vaccines can guard against severe disease and death from Omicron. That poses significant concerns for any transition away from zero-Covid for a country that had grown used to seeing no Covid-19 deaths.

While the vast majority of China’s cases have been mild or asymptomatic, the government reported the first Covid-19 deaths in more than a year on Saturday. Health authorities said the deceased — two elderly Covid-19 patients in northeastern Jilin province, one vaccinated, one not — had mild cases and succumbed to their underlying conditions.

But experts say the risks of a more serious situation have been made starkly clear for Beijing by the events over the border in Hong Kong, where a rampant outbreak has overwhelmed hospitals and morgues, leading to more than 5,500 deaths so far this year, largely due the low vaccination rate among the elderly.

While one is a city of less than 8 million and the other a nation of 1.4 billion, experts say parallels that do exist have raised alarms in recent weeks.

A temporary hospital for the Covid-19 patients in Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province in March, 2022.

“Both have pursued a ‘zero-Covid strategy,’ both have a large unvaccinated elderly population, and in addition (both) have not invested in public health surge capacity building before the Omicron wave arrived,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“And in China, you have a large percentage of the general population that have not been exposed to the virus, because of zero-Covid, or that are vaccinated with vaccines that (studies show) are not effective in preventing infection.”

While China’s overall vaccination rate tops 87%, immunization among the elderly, and especially the most vulnerable over 80s, lags that of countries like the US or Britain, as these groups were not originally prioritized in China’s vaccination campaigns.

An estimated 40 million Chinese over the age of 60 have yet to receive a vaccine, according to data from China’s National Health Commission. While some 80% of China’s 264 million elderly people are fully vaccinated, that percentage falls to only around half for the group most vulnerable to Covid-19, those over 80 years old.

“We have been ringing the alarm bell again and again about this — it’s a hard-learned lesson not only for Hong Kong, but also for China,” said Jin Dongyan, a professor at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Biomedical Sciences.

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident for nucleic acid test at a community of Jiutai District in Changchun, northeast China's Jilin Province on March 18, 2022.
China’s potential problem is further compounded by its reluctance to approve a foreign mRNA vaccine, despite securing an option on 100 million doses of a widely used vaccine by Germany’s BioNTech in late 2020.

“(Not approving the BioNTech shot) was also a missed opportunity for Chinese policy to out-evolve the virus,” said health security expert Nicholas Thomas, an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who called the decision a “clear example of vaccine nationalism” in favor of China’s domestic shots.

“Had they (approved the BioNTech vaccine last year), given the impressive resources that China deployed with their earlier vaccination program, it is unlikely that they would now be facing the same threat from the Omicron outbreak,” he said.

While several homegrown mRNA vaccines are in development — with at least one in the final phase of clinical trials — it remains unclear when or whether those doses will ultimately be approved, or if they’ll measure up the existing shots in use around the world.

Potentially compounding these risks is that many of China’s elderly live in the countryside, where health care is significantly less advanced than in cities. China’s ability to handle a crush of severe cases could also be hampered by its ICU capacity, which falls well below that of many Western countries.

There are signs that China is seeking to fill the gaps. In recent days health authorities have given updates on efforts, for example, to enlist mobile clinics to get elderly people vaccinated and stress the importance of their booster drive. They’ve also included the foreign Covid-19 antiviral pill by Pfizer in the latest guidelines — a new addition to China’s medicine cabinet — and said that Omicron-specific vaccines are in the works.

End game?

The problems that China faces are not necessarily unique: countries across the world have battled Covid-19 with low vaccination rates in the elderly and ailing health systems.

In China, because heavy-handed tactics have so far allowed the population to steer clear of the worst effects of the virus, experts say relaxing those measures could come as a shock.

“The pressure to maintain zero-Covid is not only from the central government but also the general public,” said Xi Chen, a professor at Yale School of Public Health, pointing to public support for the government’s measures in the past two years.

While there are signs that people and experts in China are beginning to look more toward policies in the rest of the world to “live with the virus,” this may also require a significant shift for official messaging that has focused on the gravity of health crises outside China’s borders, even after mass vaccination campaigns reduced deaths in developed countries.

“The problem is that if you continue to highlight the danger of the disease and demonize the pandemic response efforts of other countries, it means that the fear in the public won’t fade away, and that makes moving away from a zero-Covid strategy difficult,” said CFR’s Huang.

And even if this outbreak is brought under control, these questions will continue to rise to the fore in China, as containing Omicron amounts to a “Sisyphian effort” for China’s leaders and its people, he said.

“They are not going to eradicate all the Omicron cases in China…they are just waiting for the next round.”

CNN’s Beijing bureau contributed reporting.

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Minneapolis Public Schools cancels classes again as teachers enter tenth day of strike

The strike began March 8 as The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) and Education Support Professionals (ESP) said it was seeking “a living wage” for ESPs, smaller class sizes and “safe and stable schools,” according to a post on the union’s Facebook page when the strike was initially authorized.

“We’ll be back out on the line tomorrow fighting for safe and stable schools!,” the MFT tweeted Sunday.

Meanwhile, MPS said on its website Sunday that it had “shared its last, best and final ESP offer with union leaders that underscores the district’s commitment to honoring the contribution ESPs make to our schools and students.”

Wages would increase by 15.6% on average over two years, making them “aligned with MFT, MPS and community value for living wages,” the district said.

The proposal also includes an opportunity for increased work with an investment of $3.5 million to additional hours for ESPs and four additional paid duty days for professional development and collaboration, the statement said.

“MPS is reaching beyond its financial means on behalf of our ESPs and will need to make more than $10 million in reductions for the next school year as a result,” MPS said.

In a video posted to the union’s Facebook page Sunday night, union officials said they want ESPs to have a minimum $35,000 annual salary. Teacher Chapter President Greta Callahan said the union “passed over a comprehensive proposal for settlement,” but the district officials went home for the night and said they would talk again Monday. “We were ready to keep going all night. This contract needs to get settled. We want kids back in school and it feels like we are the only ones acting like that right now,” Callahan said.

The district has 31,598 students, 3,266 teachers and 1,223 education support professionals, according to its website.

At the start of the strike, the district said all Minneapolis Public Schools classes for pre-K through 12th would be canceled “for the duration of the strike.”

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Texas firefighters have battled 175 fires in the past week that have burned nearly 95,000 acres, the state’s forest service says

As of Sunday, there were 23 active wildfires, Texas A&M Forest Service spokeswoman Erin O’Connor said, the largest of those being the Eastland Complex Fire ripping through central Texas.
The four initial fires that formed the Eastland Complex Fire began Wednesday and Thursday, the forest service said. More than 140 structures are reported destroyed, fire officials said, without differentiating between homes, businesses or outbuildings. On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott said at least 50 homes across three communities had been destroyed.

Some relief may come Monday afternoon as the region is expected to be in the path of severe storms and could get up to two inches of rain, CNN Meteorologist Robert Shackelford said. Statewide, the severe weather could impact up to 20 million Texans throughout the afternoon and evening hours, Shackelford added.

At least one person has died as a result of the flames. Eastland County Deputy Sgt. Barbara Fenley died Thursday night as she helped evacuate people in the town of Carbon, about 100 miles west of Fort Worth.
The Eastland Complex Fire rages across central Texas Sunday.

She was last heard from while on her way to assist an elderly person, the Eastland County Sheriff’s Office said.

Amid deteriorating conditions and low visibility from smoke, Fenley ran off the roadway and was killed in the flames, the sheriff’s office said.

Abbott, who on Friday issued a disaster declaration for 11 counties, including Eastland, ordered flags be flown at half-staff in Fenley’s honor.

“We will never forget her sacrifice,” the governor said.

CNN’s Paradise Afshar and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.

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