The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee has set Monday, April 4 as the date for the body’s vote on Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman ever nominated to the high court.
Judiciary Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., signaled his approval for Jackson through his comments on Monday, repeatedly praising her “rock-steady grace and poise,” as well as her judicial temperament throughout last week’s confirmation hearings.
The hearings, which he called a “trial by ordeal,” took more than 30 hours over the course of three days.
The ordeal to which he was referring was clearly a criticism aimed at the questions of Republican committee members, who Durbin took to task on Monday. The Illinois Democrat reprimanded an handful of members for what he called their “jackassery," paraphrasing comments made by Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, in playing to “the QAnon crowd and fringe conspiracy theorists.”
“Some members of this committee used the entirety of the question time — all 50 minutes — to focus exclusively on child pornography cases,” Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said. “This may play well with the QAnon crowd and the fringe conspiracy theorists who helped drive the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, but the American public sees it for what it is.”
“Judge Jackson’s philosophy may not be described by a catchword, but it reflects the real, proper role of a judge in America: Listen to the parties; approach each case without favoritism; set aside your personal view; apply the law to the facts," he said.
Durbin also chided his colleagues who took umbrage with Jackson’s refusal to comment on court-packing — a supposed strategy to pull the Supreme Court out of its rightward tilt by expanding the bench and adding a number of left-leaning judges to the new seats — by noting similar demurring responses from now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett during her examination.
He added that attempts by committee members to paint Jackson as “soft on crime” and easy on child pornographers were “meritless to the point of demagoguery” and easily seen through by the American public.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking member of the panel, argued that Jackson’s record is incomplete. He reiterated his complaint that the Obama administration had previously withheld 48,000 pages of United States Sentencing Commission documents, a body that Jackson once sat on. He also criticized Jackson’s judicial philosophy.
“She says her philosophy is based on her cases; that’s more of a case for judicial process than it is judicial philosophy,” Grassley said. “I’ll have more to say on that subject once I’ve finished reviewing her record.”
Should Jackson win the committee’s approval, her nomination would then move to the Senate for final confirmation.
“This is one of the most qualified nominees ever nominated for the Supreme Court in every respect, in terms of her disposition, her intellectual capacity, her experience and background,” President Joe Biden told reporters on Monday at the White House. “A woman who is totally, thoroughly qualified ... and will be a great addition to the court.”