Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings live updates: Opening statements Monday

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(WASHINGTON) — Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in its 233-year history, will appear on Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first of four days of high-profile confirmation hearings.

Monday’s session kicks off at 11 a.m. with 10-minute opening statements from Senate Judiciary Committee members, five-minute statements from outside introducers, and then, 10 minutes from Jackson herself.

Jackson, 51, who currently sits on the nation’s second most powerful court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, will face questions from the committee’s 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats over two days, starting Tuesday. On Thursday, senators can ask questions of the American Bar Association and other outside witnesses.

While Democrats have the votes to confirm President Joe Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee on their own, and hope to by the middle of April, the hearings could prove critical to the White House goal of securing at least some Republican support and shoring up the court’s credibility. Jackson has been vetted twice previously by the Judiciary Committee and twice confirmed by the full Senate as a judge — most recently last year, with three Republican votes.

Jackson, who would replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer if confirmed, has spent the last month meeting with senators from both parties behind closed doors on Capitol Hill ahead of publicly testifying to her qualifications for the nation’s highest court.

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Here is how the news is developing. Check back for updates:

Mar 21, 10:02 am
Jackson preps for intense hearings by — knitting

While Judge Jackson has more experience fielding questions during high-intensity Senate hearings than any Supreme Court nominee since Clarence Thomas in 1991, she has described the process as “extremely nerve-wracking,” although she’s seen Senate confirmation three times.

To offset that nervous energy, Jackson says she took up — knitting.

“The lights are as bright as they are in here, in terms of cameras and attention, and you do your best not to make a fool of yourself in front of the senators,” Jackson said in a conversation for the D.C. Circuit Historical Society in 2019.

She said that she “started so many scarves I could have outfitted a small army,” recalling her first Senate confirmation process in 2012, when she was nominated by then-President Barack Obama to serve on the U.S. District Court in Washington. She currently sits on currently sits Washington’s federal appellate court.

Ahead of this week’s marathon questioning, Jackson met one-on-one with 44 senators ahead of her hearings next week, including all members of the Judiciary Committee and its 11 Republican members, according to former Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, the White House “sherpa” for the nominee, escorting her on Capitol Hill.

Mar 21, 9:40 am
Some in GOP paint Jackson as ‘soft on crime,’ White House rejects accusation

Several GOP senators have telegraphed plans to question Judge Jackson’s defense of detainees at Guantanamo Bay as a private defense attorney, her support of reduced sentences for convicted drug offenders and the backing of her nomination by outside progressive advocacy groups.

In a sign the hearings could get contentious, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri — a former Supreme Court clerk for Chief Justice John Roberts and a potential presidential hopeful — suggested in a barrage of tweets Thursday that Jackson has a “long record” of letting child porn offenders “off the hook” and suggested she is “soft on crime.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back last week, calling it a “last-ditched eve-of-hearing desperation attack.”

“The facts are that, in the vast majority of cases involving child sex crimes, broadly, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were consistent with or above what the government or U.S. probation [authorities] recommended. And so, this attack that we’ve seen over the last couple of days relies on factual inaccuracies and taking Judge Jackson’s record wildly out of context,” Psaki said.

While court records show that Jackson did impose lighter sentences than federal guidelines suggested, Hawley’s insinuation neglects critical context, including the fact that the senator himself has voted to confirm at least three federal judges who also engaged in the same practice. ABC News’ Devin Dwyer fact checks Hawley here.

-ABC News’ Devin Dwyer

Mar 21, 9:23 am
Will any Republicans vote for Jackson?

Judge Jackson has been vetted twice previously by the Judiciary Committee and twice confirmed by the full Senate as a judge — most recently last year, with three Republican votes. She was also confirmed by the Senate in 2010 as vice-chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

GOP Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Lindsey Graham voted in favor of Judge Jackson’s confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in June 2021, but after private meetings with Jackson this month, all three were noncommittal about supporting her again.

While Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin has said he is hopeful more than three Republicans will support the nomination this time around, GOP Whip Sen. John Thune said last week he would be surprised it that were the case.

“I think it’s important to recognize that she has been confirmed three times now, so this is not a candidate who is a blank slate to us,” Collins said after spending more than 90 minutes one-on-one with Jackson. “I will, of course, await the hearings before the Judiciary Committee before making a decision.”

No Republican senator has publicly disputed Jackson’s qualification to be a justice, though several have raised concerns about her rulings and presumed judicial philosophy.

-ABC News’ Devin Dwyer

Mar 21, 9:06 am
What to expect at Monday’s hearings

Monday marks the first day of four high-profile hearings where the Senate Judiciary Committee and American people will hear from Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson — President Joe Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee and the first Black woman nominated to the nation’s highest court in its 233-year history.

The hearings will gavel in at 11 a.m. with 10-minute statements from the committee’s 11 Republican and 11 Democratic members. Following member opening statements, Judge Thomas Griffith, formerly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and professor Lisa Fairfax of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School will have five minutes each to introduce Jackson, whom they know personally.

Finally, Judge Jackson will then deliver an opening statement in the afternoon for 10 minutes. ABC News will air special coverage of her remarks.

And for the first time since the pandemic, for each half-hour of the proceeding, up to 60 members of the public invited by senators will also be allowed to attend.

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