(WASHINGTON) — Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, faces up to 11 hours of grilling Tuesday on Day 2 of her four-day confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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 be questioned by each of 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.
Here is how the news is developing Tuesday. Check back for updates:
Mar 22, 9:11 am
Confirmation hearings gavel back in
The second day of confirmation hearings for Judge Jackson — Biden’s first nominee to the Supreme Court and the first Black woman considered to the nation’s highest court in its 233-year history — are officially underway.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., gaveled in the hearing room just after 9 a.m. In a show of support, Jackson’s husband, Patrick, was seated behind her in the room, as he was Monday.
Jackson faces a marathon day of questioning from the committee’s 22 members, with each senator receiving 30-minutes to question Jackson one on one for a total of 11 hours Tuesday. Senators, in order of seniority, will take turns probing her judicial philosophy, her record as a public defender and her legal opinions spanning nearly nine years on the bench.
In a sign of COVID restrictions easing across the country, almost no one in the hearing room was wearing a mask, and for the first time since the pandemic, for each half-hour of the proceedings, up to 60 members of the public invited by senators will also be allowed to attend.
Mar 22, 9:01 am
KBJ arrives on Capitol Hill
Judge Jackson arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to continue a marathon week of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will need to approve sending her nomination to the Supreme Court to the full Senate for a floor vote.
The hearings will gavel in at 9 a.m. and each of the committee’s 11 Republican and 11 Democratic members will have up to 30 minutes to question Jackson one on one.
Jackson, 51, was sworn in Monday and delivered an opening statement to reintroduce herself to the nation.
“I hope that you will see how much I love our country, and the Constitution and the rights that make us free,” she told the senators who will vote on her historic nomination.
She also hinted at how she might address GOP critiques on Tuesday, telling senators that she adopts a “neutral posture” and sees her judicial role as “a limited one.”
Mar 22, 8:59 am
Republicans preview how they’ll question KBJ
While Democrats have emphasized the historic nature of Judge Jackson’s nomination and her compelling personal story, Republicans have vowed “thorough and civil” scrutiny of her record in hundreds of cases, which several have alleged shows she is “soft on crime.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., leveled the most pointed critique of Jackson’s record so far in his opening statement Monday, accusing her of a “long record” of letting child porn offenders “off the hook” in sentencing. The White House, several independent fact-checkers, and conservative outlet The National Review have called the claims misleading and unfair.
Republicans including Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., have also made clear they will also take aim at Jackson’s defense of an accused terrorist held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay — a case she was assigned to as a federal public defender. Jackson has previously explained her service as an example of belief in constitutional values.
Others indicated they planned to press Jackson to characterize her judicial philosophy, though she’s said outright she doesn’t have one, and to answer for progressive legal advocacy groups backing both her nomination and expanding the Supreme Court’s bench.
Mar 22, 8:25 am
Questioning could prove critical in securing GOP votes
Questioning over the next two days could prove critical to the White House goal of securing at least some Republican support for Judge Jackson’s confirmation.
Three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Lindsey Graham — voted in favor of Jackson’s confirmation to the D.C. Circuit last June, but after private meetings with Biden’s nominee this month, all three were noncommittal about supporting her again.
Jackson has been vetted twice previously by the Judiciary Committee and twice confirmed by the full Senate as a judge. She was also Senate confirmed in 2010 as vice-chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
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, which she has insisted she does not have.
Even without bipartisan support, Democrats have the votes on their own for Jackson’s confirmation, which party leaders have said they plan to complete before Easter.
Mar 22, 8:08 am
KBJ faces fourth Senate grilling Tuesday
Confirmation hearings for Judge Jackson — the first Black woman to be considered for the U.S. Supreme Court — continue on Tuesday at 9 a.m. when she’ll face up to 19 hours of questions from Senate Judiciary Committee members over two days.
Jackson will lean on her three prior experiences being questioned by the Judiciary Committee — more than any other nominee in 30 years — as its 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats take turns probing her judicial philosophy, her record as a public defender and her legal opinions spanning nearly nine years on the bench.
Jackson has spent the past few weeks practicing for the spotlight during mock sessions conducted with White House staff, sources familiar with the preparations told ABC News. She also met individually with each of the committee’s members and 23 other senators from both parties.
Each senator will get a 30-minute solo round of questioning on Tuesday, totaling more than 11 hours if each uses all of his or her allotted time, ahead of 20-minute rounds on Wednesday. The grilling is unlike any other for federal judges or political nominees in large part because of the lifetime tenure on the line.
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