(WASHINGTON) — Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, faces another day of questions Wednesday after over 12 hours of grilling Tuesday on Day 2 of her four-day confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Here is how the news is developing Wednesday. Check back for updates:
Mar 23, 9:35 am
Durbin defends Jackson in opening statement
Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., using his privilege as chairman, delivered an opening statement to begin Wednesday’s session, coming to the defense of Judge Jackson after he said Republicans unfairly attacked her record on Tuesday.
Durbin said some Republican senators used the hearings as “an opportunity to showcase talking points for the November election” and sought to “put in context” some of their accusations.
Rejecting what he called the “stereotype” that Jackson is “soft on crime,” he raised her endorsements from the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police and repeated that she is in the “mainstream” of sentencing when it comes to child pornography cases.
“I also think it’s ironic that the senator from Missouri who unleashed this discredited attack refuses to acknowledge that his own choice for a federal judge in the Eastern District of Missouri has done exactly what you did,” Durbin said, referring to an orchestrated attack from Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.
Durbin also defended her record representing Guantanamo detainees which several Republicans took issue with, reminding senators of the 6th Amendment to the Constitution which they serve.
“Your nomination turned out to be a testing ground for conspiracy theories and culture war theories. The more bizarre charges against you and your family, the more the social media scoreboard lit up yesterday,” Durbin said. “I’m sorry that we go to go through this. These are not theories in the mainstream of America but they have been presented here as such.”
“You are a respected, successful woman of color. You’ve been approved three times by this committee for increasingly significant judicial assignments,” he added. “America is ready for this Supreme Court glass ceiling to finally shatter, and you, Ketanji Brown Jackson are the person to do it.”
Mar 23, 9:12 am
Day 2 of questioning kicks off
The Senate Judiciary Committee reconvened just after 9 a.m. Wednesday on Capitol Hill where Judge Jackson will undergo another marathon day of questioning.
While Democrats have the votes to confirm Biden’s high court nominee on their own, Jackson’s final day of questioning could prove critical to the White House goal of securing at least some Republican support and shoring up the court’s credibility.
GOP Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, voted in favor of Jackson’s confirmation to the D.C. Circuit last June, but after private meetings with Jackson this month, all three have been noncommittal about supporting her again.
The spotlight on a historic nominee — and the court itself during such a consequential term of cases — has also provided the opportunity for both political parties to appeal to key voting constituencies ahead of the midterm campaign season.
Mar 23, 8:46 am
What to expect Wednesday
Judge Jackson faces another round of all-day questions on Wednesday from the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she will need a majority of senators to approve her Supreme Court nomination out of committee before it sees a full floor vote.
Because the committee did not finish its first round of questioning on Tuesday, it will pick back up at 9 a.m. with 30-minute rounds from Democratic Sen. John Ossoff and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. Notably, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., traded spots with Tillis to go Tuesday evening, when she asked the Supreme Court nominee to provide a definition for “woman.”
While Democrats have used the hearings to give Jackson a chance to defend her record and display her personal side, Republicans have so far played to long-running culture wars, with Sen. Ted Cruz asking Biden’s nominee about critical race theory and Sen. Lindsey Graham probing her faith, he said, to make a point about how Democrats scrutinized Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
For the second round of questioning, each of the committee’s 11 Republican and 11 Democratic members will then have up to 20 minutes to question Jackson one on one in order of seniority.
On Thursday, senators can ask questions of the American Bar Association and other outside witnesses.
Mar 23, 8:14 am
Key takeaways from first day of questioning
Judge Jackson took questions for nearly 13 hours Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee — where Democrats hailed her for breaking barriers and Republicans attempted to brand her as “soft on crime” — but Jackson refused to play into political fights and vowed repeatedly to “stay in my lane.”
In several tense exchanges with Republicans on the committee, Jackson defended her record as both a lawyer and a judge.
She called her service as a federal public defender — including defense of accused terrorists held without charge at Guantanamo Bay — an act of “standing up for the constitutional value of representation.” Faced with allegations she was too lenient on child pornography offenders, Jackson stressed that she followed federal sentencing guidelines set by Congress and got emotional when talking about reviewing evidence in what she called “heinous” and “egrigous” crimes.
Jackson also resisted repeated attempts to classify her “judicial philosophy,” claiming she doesn’t have one, but she did lay out a “methodology” she’s developed for approaching each case: proceed from a position of neutrality, evaluate the facts and apply the law to facts in the case.
Asked also about same-sex marriage, abortion and the right to own a gun in the home, Jackson said the Supreme Court has established those rights and that she is bound to stare decisis as a jursist.
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