(WASHINGTON) — Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, faced over 12 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, is being questioned by each of the committee’s 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats over two days: Tuesday and Wednesday. 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 developed on Tuesday:
Mar 22, 10:26 pm
Unflappable Jackson endures over 12 hours of questioning
An unflappable Jackson endured over 12 hours of questioning on Tuesday.
Multiple senators pressed her on her decisions in sentencing defendants in child porn cases.
The judge also addressed crime, abortion, gender, critical race theory and her representation of Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Jackson’s confirmation hearing will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday to wrap up first-round questioning from two remaining senators: Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C. The hearing then moves on to the second round of questions.
Mar 22, 10:23 pm
Blackburn brings up abortion and gender
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who is pro-life, brought up abortion, asking Jackson, “Can you explain to me, on a constitutional basis, the court’s decision in Roe — and where is abortion protected in the constitution?”
Jackson acknowledged abortion isn’t mentioned in the Constitution. But she stressed, “Abortion is a right that the Supreme Court has recognized is one of the kinds of rights that is unenumerated.”
The Supreme Court is set to take up one of the largest threats to abortion protections guaranteed by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey with their consideration of Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Jackson told Blackburn, “Whatever the Supreme Court decides in Dobbs will be the precedent of the Supreme Court. It will be worthy of respect in the sense that it is the precedent and I commit to treating it as I would any other precedent.”
Blackburn also asked the nominee about gender, first asking if she thinks “schools should teach children that they can choose their gender.” Jackson declined to comment.
When Blackburn asked Jackson if she could define the word “woman,” she replied, “Not in this context — I’m not a biologist.”
“In my work as a judge, what I do is I address disputes. If there is a dispute about a definition, people make arguments and I look at the law and I decide,” Jackson said.
Blackburn also asked about transgender athletes, mentioning a collegiate transgender swimmer who recently won a women’s 500-yard freestyle event. Blackburn said, “What message do you think this sends to girls who aspire to compete and win in sports at the highest levels?”
“I’m not sure what message that sends,” Jackson said. “If you’re asking me about the legal issues, those are topics that are being hotly discussed, as you say, and could come to the court.”
Mar 22, 9:34 pm
Padilla asks about Jackson’s clerkship experience
In a light-hearted moment, when Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., began his questioning, Jackson acknowledged it is his birthday.
Padilla’s first question for Jackson was why she wants to join the Supreme Court.
She said, “I came to love the law starting as early as 4 years old watching my dad study when he went back to law school when I was a child.”
“I would just be so honored to have the opportunity to use my time and talents in this way,” she said.
Padilla asked about Jackson’s clerkship experience and if she thinks there should be a more diverse pool of law clerks.
Jackson clerked for three federal judges, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, whose seat she is nominated for.
As a clerk, she said, “I got to understand how judges think as they evaluate cases, which for a young lawyer is an extraordinary training opportunity.”
“I know how important it is for people to see that people like me are in the judicial branch … it’s been part of my practice to go to schools, to reach out to young people, to tell them about clerking, to try to get them to apply,” she said. “I think it’s to the benefit of us all to have as many different law students seeking clerkships as possible.”
Mar 22, 9:06 pm
Kennedy asks about court packing
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., asked Jackson if she believes efforts to pack the Supreme Court delegitimize it, to which Jackson responded, “I feel so strongly about ensuring that judges remain out of political debates.”
Kennedy accused her of dodging the question, but Jackson said she doesn’t have a strong opinion on the issue and it wouldn’t be appropriate for her to comment on it.
Kennedy kept pressing, asking Jackson if she’d be OK if the Supreme Court had 28 justices.
“If that’s Congress’ determination — yes. Congress makes political decisions like that,” she said.
Kennedy also asked about what judicial restraint means to her.
Jackson said one example is adhering to precedent, which she said “is something that I do, and even in cases … in which they’re not binding precedents.”
“I find that the court needs to take into consideration what has previously been determined and not be a policy maker in my decisions,” she said.
Mar 22, 7:59 pm
Jackson gets emotional talking about family
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., defended Jackson after she was grilled by Republicans over sentencing, saying that “line of attack… doesn’t hold water.”
“I was a little insulted about the accusation that somehow, this mother of two, confirmed three times by the United States Senate, who has victim advocacy groups writing letters for … that somehow the implication that you are somehow out of the norm of other federal judges that we have confirmed …this implication that somehow your thoughtfulness on these very dense, fact-specific cases, is somehow out of norm, to me, does not hold up — doesn’t hold water,” he said.
As Jackson’s parents looked on, Booker said he wanted America to know more about Jackson’s character and asked her to share about the values she’s inherited from her parents.
Jackson got emotional as she spoke about her parents, recounting how they were the first in their families to attend college. They “taught me hard work. They taught me perseverance. They taught me that anything is possible in this great country,” she said.
She said her parents became “extraordinary public servants” because they wanted to give back to their community. And that they raised her in Washington, D.C., “on that hope and dream,” “born here with an African name.”
Booker also touched on Jackson’s faith, asking her, “Where do you get the grit and guts to get back up and keep on going?”
Jackson responded by talking about her grandparents, who she said “didn’t have it easy.”
They “didn’t have a lot of formal education,” but “were the hardest working people I’ve ever known” and got up every day and put one foot after the other and provided for their families and made sure their children went to college, even though they never had the opportunities,” Jackson said.
“I stand on the shoulders of people from that generation,” she said. “And I focus, at times, on my faith when I’m going through hard times. … I think that’s a common experience of Americans — that when you go through difficult times you lean into family and you turn to faith.”
Mar 22, 7:33 pm
Cotton pushes Jackson on crime
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who is considered a presidential hopeful, questioned Jackson on crime, continuing a GOP focus on crime and punishment that some see being more about political calculations than the nominee herself.
He first pushed her to answer if she believes the U.S. needs more or fewer police, calling it a “simple either/or question.”
She responded, “Determination whether there should be more police is a policy decision by another branch of government. It is not something that judges have control over and I will stay in my lane in terms of the kinds of things that are properly in judiciary branch.”
Cotton, appearing frustrated, said to the judge, “OK, you don’t want to address it, we’ll move on.”
Cotton asked more specific questions on crime, including if the average murder sentence — which he said is 17 years — is too long or too short.
Jackson responded, “Senator, these are policy questions … They’re not the kind of things I can opine about.”
When Cotton asked her about rape sentences, Jackson responded, “Rape is not a crime in the federal system that I’m familiar with working with.”
Cotton asked: “In 2020 alone well over 1 million — 1 million — violent crimes went unsolved in America. Do you think we imprison too many violent criminals or not enough?”
Jackson responded, “Senator, it’s important for our rule of law to ensure that people are held accountable who are breaking the law in the ways that you mention and otherwise.”
Cotton then asked her what she thought the families of the victims of unsolved crimes think.
The judge responded, “I know what the families of law enforcement officers think because I’m one of them. I know what crime does to our society. I care deeply about public safety, and as a judge, it’s been my duty, when I was at the trial level … to ensure that people are held accountable for their crimes.”
Cotton, also brought up child pornography, as other Senators have, asking if she thinks the U.S. strengthen or weaken sentences in child porn cases.
Jackson, who has repeatedly pushed back on sentencing questions by referring to the role of Congress, did so again.
“That’s not a simple question,” she said. “The reason is because what this country does in terms of penalties is in Congress’ province — you all decide. You all decide what the penalties are. You decide what the factors are that judges use to sentence.”
Cotton also asked about a specific drug case Jackson oversaw in which the defendant received a 20-year sentence and later applied for compassionate release. Cotton accused Jackson of rewriting the law and being sympathetic to a drug kingpin.
Jackson responded, “Respectfully, Senator, I disagree. Congress provided judges, through the compassion release motion mechanism, with the opportunity to review sentences. … In [the defendant] Mr. Young’s case, the question was, with this compassionate release motion, under a circumstance in which Congress had changed the law, was that an extraordinary and compelling circumstance to revisit his sentence? And I made a determination that it was.”
“What I determined under those circumstances is that I would resentence Mr. Young to the penalty that Congress had decided was the appropriate penalty for the conduct that he committed as of the time of his motion,” she said.
Mar 22, 5:53 pm
Hawley attacks Jackson over child porn sentencing
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., spent his entire 30 minutes of questioning to again accuse Jackson of giving short sentences to child porn offenders, saying he questioned her judgment. Hawley brought up a specific case involving an 18-year-old defendant who Jackson sentenced to three months in federal prison. The government had requested 24 months in prison.
“I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it,” Hawley said. “We’re talking about 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 11-year-olds, and 12-year-olds [as victims]. He’s [the defendant] got images that added up to over 600 images, gobs of video footage … If it’s not heinous or egregious, how would you describe it?”
Jackson responded, “The evidence that you are pointing to … is heinous. It is egregious. What a judge has to do is determine how to sentence defendants proportionately, consistent with the elements that the statutes include with the requirements that Congress has set forward. Unwarranted sentencing disparities is something that the Sentencing Commission has been focused on for a long time in regard to child pornography offenses.”
“All of the offenses are horrible. All of the offenses are egregious,” she continued. “But the guidelines — as you pointed out — are being departed from even with respect to the government’s recommendation. The government in this case and in others has asked for a sentence that is substantially less than the guideline penalty. And so what I was discussing was that phenomenon, that the guidelines in this area are not doing the work of differentiating defendants as the government itself indicated in this very case. And so that’s what I was talking about, but I want to assure you, Senator, that I take these cases very seriously.”
But she added: “It’s not just about how much time a person spends in prison — it’s about understanding the harm of this behavior. It’s about all of the other kinds of restraints that sex offenders are ordered, rightly, to live under at the end of the day. The sentences in these cases include not only prison time, but restraints on computer use, sometimes for decades. Restraints on ability to go near children, sometimes for decades. All of these things judges consider in order to effect what Congress has required — which is a sentence that’s sufficient but not greater than necessary to promote the purposes of punishment.”
Mar 22, 4:59 pm
Blumenthal: Jackson will make court ‘think more like America’
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told Jackson, “As I look at your parents and your husband and your daughters, what I see is America. And the best of America. So I think we should all feel that excitement and pride in this moment.”
“You will make the court look more like America, but also think more like America,” Blumenthal continued. “You will provide a very important perspective — indeed, a unique perspective — that the court needs more than ever at this moment in its history.”
He also commended Jackson’s “emotional intelligence.”
“There are a lot of people who are book smart — there are not as many people who are person smart, and you are both. That kind of emotional intelligence is what our courts need,” he said.
Jackson responded: “I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity … I stand on the shoulders of generations past who never had anything close to this opportunity, who were the first and the only in a lot of different fields. My parents, as I said, were the first in their families to have the chance to go to college. I’ve been the first and the only in certain aspects of my life, so I would say that I agree with you that this is a moment that all Americans should be proud.”
Mar 22, 4:33 pm
Jackson says she doesn’t have a justice she’s molded herself after
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., asked Jackson which justice she most admires and most aligns herself with.
Jackson responded that she doesn’t have a justice she’s molded herself after, saying instead, “What I have is a record.”
“I have 570-plus cases in which I have employed the methodology that I described and that shows people how I analyze cases. I, in every case, am proceeding neutrally,” she said.
“Because of the way in which I do things, I am reluctant to establish or to adopt a particular label, because the idea of how you interpret is just one part of a judge’s entire responsibility,” she said.
“I am looking at the facts in a case, and my experience as a trial judge helps me to assess the facts” from different perspectives, she said.
Jackson continued, “I believe that the Constitution is fixed in its meaning. I believe that it’s appropriate to look at the original intents, original public meaning of the words when one is trying to assess, because, again, that’s a limitation on my authority to import my own policy views. But there are times when the meaning, unreasonable searches and seizures, due process, looking at those words are not enough to tell you what they actually mean. You look at them in the context of history. You look at the structure of the Constitution. You look at the circumstances that you’re dealing with in comparison to what those words meant at the time that they were adopted. And you look at precedents that are related to this topic.”
Mar 22, 4:00 pm
Democrats continue to allow Jackson to defend her record
Following a contentious round of questioning from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., repeated for the record that Judge Jackson has never referenced “The 1619 Project” or “critical race theory” in her work as a judge, to which she agreed.
Coons went on to call out previous Republicans and those still to come this afternoon, such as Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who have distorted circumstances around her federal sentences of child pornography offenders and have suggested she was too lenient on criminals.
“The National Review, a conservative publication, has characterized that view of you as a smear that appears meritless to the point of demagoguery and characterizes your approach in sentencing in these cases as mainstream and correct,” Coons noted.
The Delaware senator also said that in 70% of child pornography possession sentences nationwide, “downward departures from the federal guidelines are the norm” and allowed Jackson, again, the chance to bring up her ties to law enforcement and the seriousness with which she handles sex crimes, especially against children.
“As a mother, these cases involving sex crimes against children are harrowing,” she said. “These are the cases that wake you up at night because you’re seeing the worst of humanity.”
Mar 22, 3:33 pm
Cruz raises Jackson’s position on board of Georgetown Day School
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, continued to attempt to paint Biden’s nominee, and his former Harvard Law School classmate, as an advocate for critical race theory in his questioning. Pulling one book title, Cruz asked if she agrees with kids being taught “that babies are racist.”
“When you just testified a minute ago that you didn’t know if critical race theory was taught in K through 12, I will confess I find that statement a little hard to reconcile with the public record,” Cruz said, going on to raise the fact that Jackson sits on the board of Georgetown Day School in Washington and to allege that school’s curriculum was “overflowing with critical race theory.”
“Senator, I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist or though they are not valued or though they are less than, that they are victims, that they are oppressors,” Jackson said.
“I don’t believe in any of that, but what I will say is that when you asked me whether or not this was taught in schools — critical race theory — my understanding is that critical race theory as an academic theory is taught in law schools and to the extent that you were asking the question, I understood you to be addressing public schools,” she continued.
“Georgetown Day School — just like the religious school that Justice Barrett was on the board of — is a private school,” she noted. (Justice Amy Coney Barrett served for three years on the board of Trinity Schools Inc.).
Refusing to back down, Cruz asked, “So you agree critical theory is taught at Georgetown Day School?”
Jackson replied the board does not control or focus on the curriculum at the school “so I’m actually not sure.”
Mar 22, 3:23 pm
Cruz raises critical race theory in questioning Jackson about ‘The 1619 Project’
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, began his questioning by noting that he and Judge Jackson have “known each other for a long time” as former classmates at Harvard Law School who also worked together on the Harvard Law Review.
“We were not particularly close, but we were always friendly and cordial,” Cruz said.
“We were,” Jackson replied.
Cruz went on to take issue with Jackson referencing journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project,” which won the Pulitzer Prize and was published in the New York Times, in a speech at the University of Michigan Law School for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2020.
Jackson said most of the speech focused on Black women in the civil rights moment but one slide referenced Jones’ work which she had called “provocative.”
“It is not something that I’ve studied. It doesn’t come up in my work,” Jackson said. “I was mentioning it because it was, at least at that time, something that was talked about and well-known to the students that I was speaking to at the law school.”
Cruz then launched into an attack on critical race theory and asked Jackson to explain what it means — allowing her the chance to say critical race theory does not have an impact on her work.
“Senator, my understanding is that critical race theory is — it is an academic theory that is about the ways in which race interacts with various institutions,” she said. “It doesn’t come up in my work as a judge. It’s never something that I’ve studied or relied on and it wouldn’t be something that I would rely on if I was on the Supreme Court.”
Mar 22, 2:38 pm
Jackson says public confidence in the court is ‘crucial’
As public polling in recent years shows deteriorating confidence in the Supreme Court, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asked Judge Jackson how she sees her role in maintaining the people’s confidence in the judiciary system.
Jackson characterized the issues of public confidence in the court as “crucial.”
“That’s the key to our legitimacy in our democratic system, and I’m honored to accept the president’s nomination, in part, because I know it means so much to so many people. It means a lot to me,” she said.
“I am here standing on the shoulders of generations of Americans who never had anything close to this kind of opportunity – from my grandparents who had just a grade school education but instilled in my parents the importance of learning, and my parents, who I’ve mentioned here many times already, who were first in their families to get to college,” she said, as her parents, Johnny and Ellery Brown, looked on in the chamber.
“This nomination against this backdrop is significant to a lot of people, and I hope that it will bring confidence — it will help inspire people to understand that our courts are like them, that our judges are like them doing the work and being a part of our government,” she added.
Mar 22, 2:29 pm
Jackson explains federal guidelines for child pornography offenders
As Republicans attempt to paint Judge Jackson as “soft on crime,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, pressed Biden’s nominee on whether she was too lenient in handing down sentences to child pornography offenders.
Jackson disagreed with that characterization and explained why below-guidelines sentences are so widely used: Federal sentencing laws set by Congress dictate that judges look at its sentencing guidelines and impose a sentence “no greater than necessary.”
“As I said before, these are horrible cases that involve terrible crimes and the court is looking at all of the evidence consistent with Congress’ factors for sentencing,” Jackson said. “The court is told that you look at the guidelines but you also look at the nature and circumstances of the offense, the history and characteristics of the offender.”
“In most cases, if not all of the cases, the government is asking for a sentence below the guidelines because this guidelines system is not doing the work in this particular case,” she added.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission, the bipartisan body created by Congress to set federal sentencing rules, said in its 2021 report that suggested prison terms for defendants convicted of possessing child pornography — as opposed to producing the materials — have “been subject to longstanding criticism from stakeholders and has one of the lowest rates of within-guideline range sentences each year.”
To make that point, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., following Lee, gave Jackson the opportunity to say whether it surprised her to hear that Republican judges supported have also given out similar sentences in child pornography cases.
“No, senator, it would not surprise me because these cases are horrific, and there’s a lot of disparity because of the way the guidelines are operating in this particular area,” Jackson said. “But in every case, in every case that I handled involving these terrible crimes, I looked at the law and the facts. I made sure that the victim — the children’s perspectives — were represented, and I also imposed prison terms and significant, significant supervision and other restrictions on these defendants.”
Mar 22, 2:55 pm
Durbin argues Jackson didn’t call Bush a ‘war criminal’ as Republicans contend
Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., kicking off the afternoon session, used his position as chair to defend Judge Jackson against the misleading allegation raised by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that she called former President George Bush and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “war criminals.”
Before the break, Cornyn, at first, complimented her demeanor and then asked “how in the world” she could call Bush and his defense secretary war criminals in legal briefs. Jackson seemed stumped, saying she didn’t remember that reference.
After saying he had done “research,” Durbin said Cornyn appeared to be referencing Jackson’s representation of a Guantanamo Bay detainee as a federal public defender.
“During your service as a public defender, you filed several habeas petitions against the United States naming former President Bush and Rumsfeld in their official capacities,” Durbin said. “You were representing people who were wrongly classified as civilians and were combatants of the United States,” he added, going on to explain the alien tort statute.
“So, to be clear there was no time where you called President Bush or Secretary Rumsfeld a war criminal,” Durbin said.
“Correct, senator,” Jackson replied, with a smile.
-ABC News’ Trish Turner
Mar 22, 1:37 pm
‘Calm, cool and collected’: Key takeaways from morning session
ABC News Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer, reporting from inside the hearing room, said the big takeaway so far is that Jackson has stayed “calm, cool and collected.” With no major missteps or gaffes, he said, and a slim Democratic majority on her side, she appears on her way to Senate confirmation.
There was some tension in the morning session when Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Jackson a barrage of questions on her faith, to which she declined to go in-depth, saying she’s “mindful of the need for the public to have confidence in my ability to separate out my personal views.”
Graham, who let it be known his favored nominee was not selected, went on to say he wasn’t trying to attack Jackson but make a point about how “our people” — conservative judicial appointees — have been treated in the past.
In the afternoon session, Republicans are expected to continue pressing Jackson on court precedent, her record as a federal public defender and representation of Guantanamo Bay detainees, and her sentences for child sex offenders, among other issues.
As senators try to probe her judicial philosophy, Jackson told the committee that she has developed a methodology that she uses when approaching any case to ensure impartially and stressed that she views her role as a judge as “limited.”
Mar 22, 12:58 pm
Confirmation hearings break for lunch
The Senate Judiciary Committee has gone into a break until approximately 1:30 p.m. after a marathon morning of questions from Democrats and Republicans on the committee considering Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
After the break, 15 more senators will have 30 minutes each for one on one questions with Jackson, giving them the chance to probe her judicial philosophy, her record as a public defender and her legal opinions spanning nearly nine years on the bench.
The grilling is unlike any other for federal judges or political nominees in large part because of the nature of the high court and the justices’ lifetime tenure.
-ABC News’ Devin Dwyer
Mar 22, 12:51 pm
Cornyn questions Jackson on same-sex marriage
In his questioning, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked Judge Jackson about same-sex marriage and asserted that the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which said same-sex marriage is a fundamental right, conflicts with the beliefs of some religions.
“When the Supreme Court decides that something that is not even in the Constitution is a fundamental right and no state can pass any law that conflicts with the Supreme Court’s edict, particularly in an area where people have sincerely held religious beliefs, doesn’t that necessarily create a conflict between what people may believe as a matter of their religious doctrine or faith and what the federal government says is the law of the land?” Cornyn asked.
“That is the nature of a right,” Jackson replied. “That when there is a right it means that there are limitations on regulation, even if people are regulating pursuant to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Pressed further on whether that is an act of judicial policymaking, Jackson said the Supreme Court considered that to be an “application of the substantive due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” which ensures equal protection under the law.
ABC News Political Director @RickKlein talks about what he thinks has been the most challenging moment for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson so far during confirmation hearing.
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) March 22, 2022
Cornyn continued to bash the court for what he called establishing a new “unenumerated right” and asked Jackson, what other unenumerated rights are “out there.”
“Senator, I can’t say. It’s a hypothetical that I’m not in a position to comment on. The rights that the Supreme Court has recognized as substantive due process rights are established in its case law,” she said.
Later on, Cornyn lamented that he thinks “nominees from both parties tend to be over-coached.”
-ABC News’ Trish Turner
Mar 22, 12:16 pm
Jackson’s family shows support inside hearing room
Judge Jackson’s family members showed their support again on the second day of her confirmation hearings with their steady presence inside the hearing room as she fielded, at times, contentious questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Jackson’s husband, Patrick, a general surgeon, was again seated behind Jackson. Photographers snapped photos of him sporting Benjamin Franklin-themed socks and jotting down notes during the morning session.
Jackson’s parents, Johnny and Ellery Brown, were also in the audience, near two seats reserved for Jackson’s daughters, Talia, 21, and Leila, 17. Leila arrived in the room after the morning break.
In an emotional moment on Monday, Jackson’s daughters looked to their father as he wiped away tears while Jackson read her opening statement.
-ABC News’ Trish Turner
Mar 22, 12:03 pm
Jackson speaks to ‘meaningful’ representation on Supreme Court
Raising gender balance in the judiciary and the fact that, if confirmed, there would be four women on the Supreme Court, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., gave Judge Jackson an opportunity to speak to what it would mean to her personally to see more women represented on the nation’s highest court in its history.
“I think it’s extremely meaningful,” Jackson replied. “One of the things that having diverse members of the court does is it provides for the opportunity for role models.”
“Since I was nominated to this position, I have received so many notes and letters and photos from little girls around the country who tell me that they are so excited for this opportunity and that they have thought about the law in new ways because I am a woman — because I am a Black woman — all of those things people have said have been really meaningful to them,” Jackson added.
“And we want, I think, as a country, for everyone to believe they can do things like sit on the Supreme Court. So, having meaningful numbers of women and people of color, I think, matters,” she said. “I also think that it supports public confidence in the judiciary when you have different people, because we have such a diverse society.”
Mar 22, 11:41 am
Jackson on abortion cases: ‘Roe and Casey are the settled law’
As she’s asked previous Supreme Court nominees, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., questioned Judge Jackson on her judicial views on abortion with the nation’s high court set to decide cases this term that could overturn decades of legal precedent.
“I do agree with both Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Barrett on this issue,” Jackson said, referring to their answers to Feinstein at their confirmation hearings. “Roe and Casey are the settled law of the Supreme Court concerning the right to terminate a woman’s pregnancy.”
Feinstein then asked, “Does Roe v. Wade have the status of being a case that is a super precedent, and what other Supreme Court cases do you believe have that status?”
“Well senator, all Supreme Court cases are precedential, they’re binding. And their principles and their rulings have to be followed,” she said.
“Roe and Casey, as you say, have been reaffirmed by the court, and have been relied upon, and reliance is one of the factors that the court considers when it seeks to revisit or is asked to revisit a precedent,” she continued. “In all cases, the precedent of the Supreme Court would have to be reviewed pursuant to those factors because stare decisis is very important.”
Mar 22, 11:30 am
Graham laments the fate of his preferred Supreme Court pick
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina brought up Judge J. Michelle Childs, a U.S. District Court judge in South Carolina and his preferred nominee for the Supreme Court seat, asking Jackson about progressive groups supporting her nomination over that of Childs.
His voiced tinged with anger, Graham said, “In your nomination, did you notice people from the left were pretty much cheering you on?”
“A lot of people were cheering me on,” Jackson replied.
Graham went on to allege there was a concerted effort to disqualify Childs because progressive groups painted her as a “union-busting unreliable Republican in disguise,” but Jackson reminded him that she is still a sitting judge and said she has been focused on her cases.
“Would it bother you if that happened?” Graham continued to press.
Jackson, who received Graham’s vote last year for the appellate court, answered that it would be “troublesome” if groups were doing anything to interfere with the nomination, but maintained that she wasn’t aware of the criticism.
Mar 22, 10:38 am
Jackson stresses her record as an ‘independent jurist’
As she reintroduces herself to the American public as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ranking Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Jackson what aspect of her record as a judge does she believe has been the most important for the good of the country.
“Well, I think that all of my record is important to some degree because I think it clearly demonstrates that I’m an independent jurist, that I am ruling in every case consistent with the methodologies that I’ve described, that I’m impartial,” Jackson said.
“I don’t think anyone could look at my record and say that it is pointing in one direction or another or that it is supporting one viewpoint or another. I am doing the work and have done the work for the past 10 years that judges do to rule impartially and to stay within the boundaries of our proper judicial role,” she added.
Trying to hone in further on her judicial philosophy, Grassley asked, of the previous 115 justices, are there any of them now or in the past that has a judicial philosophy that most closely resembles her own. She said she hasn’t studied the philosophies of all of the prior justices but that her background as a trial judge resembles that of left-leaning Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
“I will say that I come to this position, to this moment as a judge who comes from practice — that I was a trial judge and my methodology has developed in this context. I don’t know how many other justices other than Justice Sotomayor have that same background,” she said.
Jackson has also emphasized in previous confirmations hearings that she does not have a judicial philosophy per se, but she applies the same methodology to all the cases she approaches, regardless of its parties.
-ABC News’ Trish Turner
Mar 22, 10:14 am
Grassley grills Jackson on ‘court-packing’
Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tried to get more clarity on whether Judge Jackson would support the idea of expanding the Supreme Court beyond nine justices, but Jackson said that was a policy question she couldn’t answer.
The question comes after several Republicans said Monday they were disappointed that Jackson hasn’t clarified her position on court-packing after she received the support of the progressive group Demand Justice, which is pushing for the court’s expansion.
“Respectfully, senator, other nominees to the Supreme Court have responded as I will, which is that it is a policy question for Congress,” Jackson said. “I am particularly mindful of not speaking to policy issues because I am so committed to staying in my lane of the system. Because I’m just not willing to speak to issues that are properly in the province of this body.”
Presented with the fact that retiring Justice Stephen Breyer and the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated their views on the position, Grassley then asked if the Supreme Court has been bought by dark money groups.
“Senator, I don’t have any reason to believe that that’s the case,” she replied. “I have only the highest esteem for the members of the Supreme Court whom I hope to be able to join, if I’m confirmed, and for all of the members of the judiciary.”
Mar 22, 9:58 am
Jackson discusses representing Gitmo detainees
Continuing to give Judge Jackson opportunities to respond to GOP attacks, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also asked her what impact representing Guantanamo Bay detainees had on her judicial career after Republicans made clear they will take aim at those cases she was assigned as a federal public defender.
“September 11th was a tragic attack on this country. We all lived through it,” she began. “We saw what happened, and there were many defenses, important defenses that Americans undertook. There were Americans whose service came in the form of military action. My brother was one of those Americans, those brave Americans who decided to join the military to defend our country.”
“After 9/11, there were also lawyers who recognized that our nation’s values were under attack, that we couldn’t let the terrorists win by changing who we were fundamentally,” she continued. “And what that meant was that the people who were being accused by our government of having engaged in actions related to this, under our Constitutional scheme, were entitled to representation — were entitled to be treated fairly. That’s what makes our system the best in the world. That’s what makes us exemplary.”
She reminded the committee that federal public defenders don’t get to pick their clients but said, “You are standing up for the constitutional value of representation — and so I represented, as an appellate defender, some of those detainees.”
Mar 22, 9:50 am
Addressing Hawley attacks, Jackson recalls story she tells child porn offenders
In his questioning, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill, criticized attacks from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who accused Jackson Monday of a “long record” of letting child porn offenders “off the hook” in sentencing. Noting that several independent fact-checkers, including ABC News, have found the claims misleading, Durbin gave Jackson a chance to respond by asking what was going through her mind when Hawley leveled that criticism Monday.
“As a mother and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth,” Jackson said, taking a tough tone. “These are some of the most difficult cases that a judge has to deal with because we’re talking about pictures of sex abuse of children. We’re talking about graphic descriptions that judges have to read and consider when they decide how to sentence in these cases, and there’s a statute that tells judges what they’re supposed to do.”
She noted that federal sentencing laws are set by Congress, and the statute says, “Calculate the guidelines, but also look at various aspects of this offense, and impose a sentence that is, quote, sufficient but not greater than necessary to promote the purposes of punishment,” she said.
Calling the crimes “sickening and egregious,” Jackson went on to recall a story she said she tells every child porn defendant “when I look in the eyes of a defendant who is weeping because I’m giving him a significant sentence.”
“What I say to him is, ‘Do you know that there is someone who has written to me and who has told me that she has developed agoraphobia? She can not leave her house because she thinks that everyone she meets will have seen her, will have seen her pictures on the internet. They’re out there forever. At the most vulnerable time of her life, and so she’s paralyzed,” she said.
“I tell that story to every child porn defendant, as a part of my sentencing, so that they understand what they have done. I say to them that there’s only a market for this kind of material because there are lookers. That you are contributing to child sex abuse. And then I impose a significant sentence, and all of the additional restraints that are available in the law,” she continued in an emotional riff. “I am imposing all of those constraints because I understand how significant, how damaging, how horrible this crime is.”
Jackson noted that in addition to prison terms of many years for the crimes, she also requires “20, 30, 40 years of supervision” and that the offenders “can’t use computers for decades.”
Mar 22, 9:33 am
Jackson addresses her judicial philosophy
Hoping to disarm GOP attacks, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., posed the first question to Judge Jackson and gave her the opportunity to address her judicial philosophy after Republicans on Monday swiped at her for claiming previously that she doesn’t have one.
“So would you like to comment at the outset, of those who are looking for a label, what your position is on judicial philosophy?” Durbin said.
Jackson replied that she has developed a methodology that she uses when approaching any case “to ensure that I am ruling impartially and that I am adhering to the limit on my judicial authority.”
“I am acutely aware that as a judge in our system, I have limited power, and I am trying, in every case, to stay in my lane,” she said.
Without importing her personal views or policy preferences, Jackson explained that she follows three steps when approaching a case: First, she enters each from a position of neutrality. Next, she intakes the parties’ arguments, and the last step, she said, is the interpretation and application of the law to the facts.
“The entire exercise is about trying to understand what those who created this policy or this law intended,” she said. “As a lower court judge, I’m bound by the precedent. Even in the Supreme Court, if I was fortunate enough to be confirmed, there’s stare decisis, a binding kind of principle that the justices look at when they’re considering precedent. So, all of these things come into play in terms of my judicial philosophy.”
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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