6 takeaways from Day 2 of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing

Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., turned into a one-man rapid response squad, using the power of his gavel to debunk, in real time, GOP misleading or scurrilous claims.

SHARE 6 takeaways from Day 2 of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing
Senate Holds Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings For Ketanji Brown Jackson

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – On the second day of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., turned into a one-man rapid response squad, using the power of his gavel to debunk, in real time, GOP misleading or scurrilous claims.


Preemptive strikes: Durbin, the lead-off questioner, ran through all the GOP hits he anticipated were heading toward Jackson. In politics, this exercise at times is called a prebuttal, to get your side out early, in your own words.

That’s why Durbin asked Jackson about her judicial philosophy; views on adding seats to the Supreme Court; the reasoning behind her child porn sentences - because Republicans were portraying the mother of two as too lenient - and why she represented Gitmo detainees.

Quick answers: Said Jackson on Gitmo, “Federal public defenders don’t get to pick their clients.”

On being portrayed as soft on child porn offenders, “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Durbin delivered brief rebuttals throughout the day after various GOP senators wrapped up their 30 minutes of questioning.

Merrick Garland, remembered: When it comes to court packing – Republicans worry Democrats want to add seats, upsetting their current 6-3 advantage - Durbin unloaded.

President Barack Obama nominated now-Attorney General Garland for the Supreme Court more than a year before Obama left office. The Lincolnwood-raised Garland never even got a hearing.

Said Durbin, “There is exactly one living senator who has effectively changed the size of the Supreme Court - that was the Republican leader Sen. McConnell, who shrank the court to eight seats for nearly a year in 2016, when he blocked President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland.”

Religion, Catholics and “f’ing nut”Barrett: “What faith are you, by the way?” asked Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. opening a line of questioning that led to Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic whose religious views were portrayed by Democrats at her confirmation hearing in 2020 as outside the Catholic mainstream.

Jackson said Protestant, no denomination.

Graham pressed, “Could you fairly judge a Catholic?” “Do you attend church regularly? Jackson said she was “reluctant to say.”

This was all about Graham wanting to remind the public how Democrats grilled Barrett about her faith.

Said Graham, “Just imagine what would happen if people on late-night television called you a f’ing nut speaking in tongues because you practiced the Catholic faith in a way they couldn’t relate to or found uncomfortable.”

Graham, Durbin clash: Graham is still sore about President Joe Biden passing up South Carolina federal judge J. Michelle Childs. That “left-wing radical groups who would destroy the law as we know it declared war on Michelle Childs and supported you is problematic for me,” Graham said.

Durbin, using his rapid response power – meaning as chairman he could speak when he wants – quickly added that Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who also lobbied for his home state judge, is “publicly supporting” Jackson.

Cruz fixates on critical race theory: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, knows Jackson – he was a year ahead of her at Harvard Law School. He is also a potential 2024 presidential candidate. He tried to paint her as a supporter of critical race theory – the study of the role of racism in U.S. history - red meat to the GOP base vote.

Jackson, who will be the first female Black justice if confirmed, didn’t take the bait. “It doesn’t come up in my work as a judge, and it’s never something that I studied or relied on, and it wouldn’t be something that I would rely on if I were on the Supreme Court.”

Jackson is on the board of the elite, private Georgetown Day School that one of her kids attends. She swatted aside Cruz’s try to hold her accountable for the books students at the school are assigned to read.

Hawley fixates on child porn: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., another 2024 potential White House hopeful, is fixated on the child porn cases Jackson handled as a judge. He spent much of his time on Tuesday grilling her on the details of one case. It’s about appealing to a far-right primary voter.

Long story short: A lot of factors were in play in the cases at issue. I suggest checking out the Washington Post and New York Times extensive fact checks for yourself, so you can see how the way Hawley tried to paint Jackson as soft on child pornographers was misleading.

Schedule: Senators continue questioning Jackson on Wednesday, with outside witnesses testifying on Thursday.

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