I don't get out much anymore but I had so many errands to run yesterday that I was in my car when they played Ketanji Brown Jackson's introductory statement to the Judiciary Committee that was considering her nomination. I was really impressed listening to the way Judge Jackson presented herself. I don't usually fall for schmaltz, but... better good schmaltz than creepy schmaltz. She won me over.
I think she won over a lot of people who listened. Morning Consult released a poll this morning that was in the field for the past 4 days (including yesterday) and only 19% of respondents agreed with the neo-fascist and racist members on the Judiciary Committee that she should not be confirmed. The GOP smear machine-- led by Josh Hawley (R-MO)-- will try to inflate that number today.
The farce they call a committee hearing is more about each member making a statement about himself or herself than about any kind of consideration of the nominee. Especially hyper-partisan, racist members like Hawley, Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) can be expected to lead the committee right down the toilet as they promote their own personal political ambitions and agendas. It's not likely that Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Mike Lee (R-UT) will able to resist jumping on the KKK bandwagon.
One of the most wonderful things Biden did was that instead of nominating another completely unqualified corporate attorney-- like most Supreme Court nominees and justices-- he nominated a former public defender. This is one of teh most progressive moves Biden has ever taken in his entire career. and instead of celebrating, reactionaries on the Committee are attacking Judge Brown for this specifically.
This morning, CNBC noted that "Hawley tweeted last week that Jackson showed 'a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker.' But fact checks from numerous media outlets called that claim misleading. Durbin and other Democrats have quoted a conservative columnist who called Hawley’s argument 'meritless to the point of demagoguery.'" Congresswoman Nikema Williams, a freshman Democrat from Atlanta, didn't mince any words when she told me this morning that "Republicans are so terrified of the power of a qualified Black woman like Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson on the Highest Court that they'll fling nonsense at the wall desperate for something to stick."
Former Wisconsin Assembly majority leader and the progressive Senate candidate taking on sure no vote Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Tom Nelson, tweeted yesterday that he'd be honored to be the 51st vote in the Senate to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson. This morning he said that "The pattern of racial attacks on people of color is ever present in Judge Ketanji's nomination hearings: baseless claims, ugly stereotypes, and out-right lies. GOP senators aren't dog whistling-- they're blowing a klaxon siren."
Also this morning, John Bennett covered the politics of the nomination procedure for Roll Call and opened up like this: "Race. Terrorist detainees and the still-raw wounds of 9/11. Sexual predators. Child pornography. Mandatory minimum sentences. Did we mention race, still the hottest coal in the flammable tinderbox that is American politics? Republican senators have a tough job this week as Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson faces questioning from the Judiciary Committee. In many ways, how the GOP side of the dais decides to treat the first Black woman ever nominated to the high court is the opening salvo of what promises to be a bruising midterm election cycle. They must, all at once, be tough on a liberal federal appellate judge to placate and excite their base ahead of November’s midterm elections. But they also risk further alienating suburban white women and other swing voters who ditched them in 2020 to give Joe Biden the White House and Democrats control of both chambers of Congress."
“Marsha Blackburn is the only woman senator on the committee for Republicans. And all the Republicans on the committee are white,” Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, told CQ Roll Call on Monday. “So, having a group of all white and mostly male senators grilling the first Black woman ever nominated to the court feels like a risky proposition for them.”
“The significance of this nomination is huge, particularly for Black women. For them, it’s just so long overdue,” she added. “If she gets attacked in ways that feel personal or beyond the pale, or the [Republican] senators bring up things that are just inappropriate, they risk turning off more independent, suburban voters-- and energizing a large part of the Democratic base ahead of the midterm elections: Black women.”
...Little has changed since McConnell predicted last week during the radio interview that it is “highly likely” Jackson will be confirmed and join the high court. That means what happens during the remainder of her confirmation hearing will be mostly political theater as the 2022 midterm election cycle heats up.
And what issue in the United States is more political than race?
“The Brown Jackson nomination is a serious threat to the Republican Party. Opposition to her elevation accentuates the GOP’s hostility towards people of color, which rose to new levels during Donald Trump’s presidency,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. “GOP rejection of the nominee would demonstrate that the party is deeply committed only to its base of white voters, whose contribution to the voting pool shrinks with every election.”
All eyes this week will be on GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, two conservative firebrands who most political observers say appear to have higher career aspirations.
“You’ll most likely see two groups of Republicans this week. The first, and this probably includes Leader McConnell and Ben Sasse, who are focused on winning back the Senate. The other is thinking about running for president, and I’m thinking about Cruz and Hawley, who don’t follow, usually, what their leadership or the mainstream of the party might do. They’re the two wild cards-- they’ll see it as a chance to get a national stage and position themselves,” Walsh said.
Hawley has already made waves about Jackson, questioning whether sentences she was involved in handing down as part of the U.S. Sentencing Commission-- including ones involving child pornography-- were too light. “Judge Jackson has a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker,” he tweeted March 16. “She’s been advocating for it since law school. This goes beyond ‘soft on crime.’ I’m concerned that this a record that endangers our children.”
But Walsh suggested that using child porn cases to make a broader argument that the nominee is, as Hawley put it, “soft on crime,” could backfire.
“When I read Sen. Hawley’s tweets, it felt like he’s taken a handful of decisions out of context,” she said. “That’s the part that, I think, people will take umbrage with: twisting her record in ways that distort her record.”
For Hawley, distorting or twisting would almost certainly mean prime slots on Fox News and other conservative media outlets-- which is never bad for a potential 2024 White House candidate. Senate Democrats offered a reminder of the spectacle going on inside that Hart Senate Office Building hearing room this week.
“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination could have been single-handedly tanked by Mitch McConnell if Republicans had just ONE MORE seat in the Senate,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tweeted on Thursday. “It’s a powerful reminder of how important flipping the Senate was and how important defending it is.”
Bannon echoed that sentiment.
“Dismissal of her ascension to the Supreme Court could also motivate Black voters to vote in the midterms,” he said, “which could lessen Republican opportunities to take control of Congress next year.”
There’s another wild card: Donald Trump. The former president has not weighed in with any depth on Jackson’s nomination. He did, however, offer some counter-programming to the hearing’s first day with a telephone interview on Fox News.
Winning back the Senate and expanding the conservative tilt on the high court was not what Trump said Republicans should focus on this year or in 2024. “I think if we don’t put out all of the crooked things, and we know what they are,” he said of the 2020 presidential election he fairly lost to Biden, “you won’t win in ’22 and you won’t win in ’24.”
Ted Lieu has been watching the senators grill Ketanji today. He told me around noon that "Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson is one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees in the history of the United States. That’s why the GOP keeps resorting to false smears and stupid stuff, like asking her the strength of her religious faith. Her faith is strong, but thank God that in America, our government officials swear an oath to the Constitution with our hand on the Bible and not the other way around."