Get Ready for Ketanji Brown Jackson's Confirmation Hearings

She could end up being the first Black woman on the Supreme Court
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2022 2:02 AM CDT
Updated Mar 21, 2022 3:48 AM CDT
Ketanji Brown Jackson's Confirmation Hearings Start Today
Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson waits to meet with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, on Capitol Hill, March 8, 2022, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearings start Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If eventually confirmed to the high court, Jackson, who has a long career as a lawyer and judge, would be the first Black woman to sit on the court. The 51-year-old would fill Justice Stephen Breyer's seat when he retires this summer. What to expect, per NPR, Politico, the New York Times, and the Christian Science Monitor:

  • The timeline: The hearings will last four days; the committee will consider the hearings for a week or so; then the committee will hold a vote. If she's approved in that vote, which she is expected to be, her nomination will go to the full Senate to consider. Democrats are hoping to complete the confirmation process before April 11, when Congress begins its Easter recess.

  • Monday: Beginning at 11am Eastern time, the 22 committee members will give statements, and Jackson will end the day with her own 10-minute statement.
  • Tuesday: Starting at 9am Eastern time, Jackson will answer questions from lawmakers; each committee member will get 30 minutes of questioning time.
  • Wednesday: The same start time and general format as Tuesday, but with 20 minutes of questioning time per committee member.
  • Thursday: The final day of the hearing, starting at 9am Eastern time, will feature outside witnesses and the American Bar Association. Jackson will not speak to the committee this day. The Bar Association unanimously gave her its highest rating, "well qualified," for the position.
  • Repeat performance: Jackson just appeared in front of this same group a year ago when President Biden nominated her to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals; she was confirmed by the Senate, including three Republican yes votes.

  • More challenging this time: The SCOTUS confirmation process is highly charged and not exactly bipartisan these days, and Jackson is expected to have a bit of a harder time with Congress this time around. However, with 50 senators plus Vice President Kamala Harris, Democrats technically have enough support to confirm her along party lines, thanks to Republicans exempting Supreme Court nominations from filibuster back in 2017.
  • Republican support? Jackson has yet to receive support from any GOP senator publicly. Interestingly, however, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican VP contender in 2012, is related to Jackson by marriage and has publicly supported her SCOTUS nomination.
  • Attacks: Republicans have painted her as soft on crime (with Sen. Josh Hawley making the most headline-grabbing attack, which has been fact-checked and found to be false) and have also focused on her work with Guantánamo Bay prisoners when she was a public defender, accusing her of "defending terrorists" when she was actually working as a lawyer who defended suspects. They've also decried her as being too far to the radical left.
  • Questioning: The Times notes the level of aggression on display by Republicans questioning Jackson should indicate how likely she is to get GOP votes. "Republicans have conceded it is a sensitive situation, considering that her confirmation is likely and they are loath to be seen as piling on against a woman of color with a gold-plated legal résumé and a reputation as a solid jurist," the paper says.
  • McConnell: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that "she’ll be treated much better than Democrats typically treated Republican nominees like Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh," both of whom were accused of sexual assault before eventually being confirmed to the Supreme Court. McConnell has also said he wants Jackson to state whether she is in favor of adding seats to the high court.
(Read more Ketanji Brown Jackson stories.)

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