Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson returns to the Senate Wednesday for a third day of hearings as Republicans try to portray her as lenient on crime and Democrats announce the historic nature of her nomination to become the first black woman in the high court.
In Tuesday’s marathon hearing, Republicans aggressively questioned Jackson about the sentences she has handed down to sex offenders in her nine years as a federal judge, her defense on behalf of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, her thoughts on the critical race theory and even his religious views.
In her second marathon day of hearings in the Senate for the nomination to the Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson faced hours of questioning from members of the Judiciary Commission, who questioned everything from her judicial philosophy to very specific questions about rulings she has issued. .
Jackson, the first black woman to be nominated for a seat on the nation’s highest court, she appeared at the hearing a day after she and committee members had spent several hours delivering their opening statements.
Each member had 30 minutes to question Jackson, and while Democrats spent much of their time talking cordially with Jackson, rather than asking direct questions, Republicans pressed her on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to the sentencing of those convicted of possession of child pornography.
Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat, opened the questioning, spending much of his time giving Jackson the opportunity to preemptively address some of the controversial issues Republicans were expected to bring up.
On the issue of expanding the number of justices on the court, a strategy some Democrats have championed as a way to dilute the influence of conservative justices, and derided by Republicans as “packing the court,” Jackson responded to Durbin that he didn’t should express an opinion.
“My pole star is consideration of the proper role of a judge in our constitutional scheme,” he said. “And, in my opinion, justices shouldn’t talk about political issues, and they certainly shouldn’t be nominated for a Supreme Court seat.”
The response brought Jackson into line with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who offered a similar response at her own 2020 confirmation hearing.
Durbin allowed Jackson to address several other controversial topics that were expected to come up, including her representation of terrorism suspects as a federal public defender and her sentencing decisions in cases involving child pornography.
Referring to his representation of terrorism issues held in the US military installations in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, he pointed out that public defenders do not choose their clients, but are obliged to provide them with the most effective defense possible. It is that respect for the rights of the accused, he added, that makes the American justice system “the best in the world.”
Responding to accusations by some Republicans that she “has gone soft” on people convicted in child pornography cases, Jackson responded that “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
According to her, her sentences have been within federal guidelines and that she often supplemented them with restrictions that prevented the perpetrator from accessing certain technology that is often used to distribute such material.
Specific legal issues
For his part, Senator Charles Grassley, the highest-ranking Republican on the panel, inquired about his position on allowing cameras in the Supreme Court room. Jackson dodged the question, saying she wouldn’t feel comfortable answering until she had talked to other judges about it.
Grassley also asked him to address the False Claims Act, a federal law that allows whistleblowers to receive a portion of the money recovered in fraud cases against the federal government. Jackson explained that she was “reluctant to comment” on an issue that had not yet come before the court.
Senator Mike Lee asked Jackson to comment on the Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which includes the concept of “unenumerated rights.” He asked what rights have been identified as arising from the amendment.
Conservatives have long been concerned that the amendment has been used to “create” new rights not mentioned in the Constitution, such as the right to abortion or the right to same-sex marriage.
“To my knowledge, (the Constitution) has not identified any particular rights that flow directly from the Ninth Amendment, although, as you said, the text of the amendment suggests that there are some rights that are not enumerated,” Jackson responded.
Lee fired back by questioning whether she and President Joe Biden had discussed abortion rights prior to her nomination, to which she replied no.
Some of the unusual moments in the hearing came when Republican Senator Lindsay Graham asked Jackson how faithful he would say he was “in terms of religion.”
Jackson objected to the question, reminding Graham that there is no religious test for civil servants in the US.
Later, Republican Senator John Cornyn asked Jackson, “Why the hell would you call (former) Secretary of Defense (Donald) Rumsfeld and (former President) George W. Bush war criminals in a legal filing?”
Question in which she seemed momentarily confused.
It was later revealed at the hearing that in a court filing made while representing a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, he had argued that cases in which the United States used torture against prisoners “constitute war crimes and/or crimes of against humanity in violation of the law of nations under the Alien Tort Statute.”
The ultimate outcome of Jackson’s nomination process is not seriously in doubt, because his nomination can be approved with a simple majority vote in the Senate.
Because Democrats hold 50 of the 100 seats in the Senate, and Vice President Kamala Harris can break the tie, Jackson’s nomination is expected to be reported favorably to the Senate by the Judiciary Committee and ultimately pass.
[Con información de Rob Garver, VOA]
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