Opinion: Treatment of Ketanji Jackson During Confirmation Hearing was Deplorable


Image Source: The New Yorker

Analise Bruno, Editor-in-Chief

Historically, Senate Confirmation Hearings of nominated Supreme Court Justices was never required, that is until a Jewish justice was up for a seat on the court. In 1916, former President Woodrow Wilson nominated a Boston attorney named Louis Brandeis. Anti Semitism had been at a large in the states at this point, and thus, for days, the senate grilled him on questions that undermined his credibility as both a lawyer and a judge. Many similar parallels can be drawn to the most recent hearing for nominated justice, Ketanji Jackson. Jackson is Harvard-educated, a certified attorney, and has served as a federal judge for the District of Columbia for over a year. Though more than qualified for her work, Jackson’s credibility has similarly been called into question, not because she’s Jewish, but because of her race.
As I watched footage of the hearing, I was genuinely appalled to hear some of the most irrelevant and insulting questions asked to Jackson, particularly by Senator Ted Cruz, and Senator Graham amongst MANY others.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas opened up by asking Jackson about her thoughts on three different children’s books. Among the selections were: “The Antiracist Baby” by Ibram X Kendi, “The End of Policing” by Alex Vitale, and “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado. In his questioning of Jackson, Ted Cruz could hardly keep his composure as he began talking about the books, “Do you agree with this book that is being taught to kids that babies are racist?” he rebuffed. Not only did Senator Cruz majorly miss the mark on what the book is actually about, but he also completely insulted the experience and judicial temperament of Jackson with such irrelevant questions.
“Senator, I have not reviewed any of those books, any of those ideas, they don’t come up in my work as a judge, which I’m respectfully here to address in my work as a judge. Which is evidenced from my near-decade on the bench,” was Jackson’s eloquent response.
Despite this deplorable situation, it at the very least shows Jackson’s record is impeccable considering Cruz had to use a random book as a political prop to undermine her. Unfortunately, however, the criticism did not stop there. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina similarly asked Jackson irrelevant questions relating to her thoughts on the handling of Brett Kavanaugh’s case in 2018, as well as whether or not she could “judge a catholic” fairly. This was immediately a red flag considering the separation of church and state had been formally established. These were only a few of the many hurtful and embarrassing questions asked to Justice Jackson, but her treatment is a prime example of how black women are treated in America.
I have to ask where the question of fairness was called into play when notorious pro-life justice, Amy Coney Barrett was up for nomination in 2020. In her confirmation hearing, she could hardly answer what the first 5 freedoms were, and yet these same senators did not question her credibility for a second (not that this necessarily speaks to her experience, but it’s clear had Jackson failed to do something like that, those senators would have been outraged). Further, no one asked if she could fairly judge a case involving reproductive autonomy fairly given that she has been an open champion against the pro-choice campaign. Likewise, Brett Kavanaugh who was confirmed in 2018 had a huge mounting sexual assault case on his shoulders, and that hardly stopped him from earning his seat, so why the attack on Jackson whose record proves she has higher qualifications than most past and current justices? Undeniably it has much to do with privilege and racism. White men berating her on national television very clearly has nothing to do with testing her qualifications, but everything to do with the fact that they are threatened by a strong, intelligent, democratic black woman being confirmed.
Fortunately, there were some on the senate floor such as Cory Booker who spoke very highly of Jackson praising her efforts and credentials, even bringing her to tears with their kindness. Kentaji Jackson’s treatment highlights yet again how there will be people who will work their hardest to undermine your successes and experiences, but conversely, it also emphasizes how having a model character that embodies both perseverance and strength can allow you to triumph no matter the circumstances.

**This opinion article reflects the voice of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Viking Times as a whole. Like most news outlets, The Viking Times is a non-partisan media platform.***