March 22, 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson vowed Monday to approach cases ‘from a neutral posture’ and to be transparent in her decision-making if confirmed to the Supreme Court… She spent most of Monday hearing from senators, some of whom began making arguments of their own. It was the first of four planned days of hearings to consider Jackson’s nomination.” SCOTUSblog

Here’s our previous coverage of Jackson’s nomination. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left praises Jackson’s qualifications and experience.

“[Republicans] ought to consider defying recent political convention and throwing their support behind Jackson's nomination. First thing first. Jackson is amply qualified: two degrees from Harvard, a mega-prestigious clerkship on the US Supreme Court with Justice Stephen Breyer (whom she is about to succeed), hands-on work as a public defender and on the US Sentencing Commission, plus nine years as a federal judge, both at the trial and appellate levels…

“Not only is Jackson a supremely qualified nominee, but she's poised to become an important first: the first Black woman to be confirmed to the US Supreme Court. It's well past time. Even beyond the judge's sterling resume, she makes for a difficult target politically. In her introductory speech, she stressed her own family and religious background, including relatives who worked in law enforcement…“She has gained endorsements not only from Democrats and liberal groups (as expected) but also from prominent conservative judges and lawyers and from the nation's largest police union. The Senate has confirmed her three times [in the past].”

Elie Honig, CNN

“Not only would she be the first former public defender to sit on the Supreme Court, she’d be the first justice since Thurgood Marshall with a criminal-defense background… Such experience has given Jackson an understanding of the challenges facing the legal system. For instance, she has long been critical of ‘coercive plea bargaining,’ the practice of pushing defendants (many with limited means) to take guilty pleas rather than endure time-consuming trials with the risk of a more severe sentence, an unseemly consequence of overburdened and underfunded courts…

“As a federal public defender, Brown represented plenty of unpopular clients, including terrorism suspects. In doing so she upheld a bedrock principle of the U.S. justice system: the right to a vigorous defense. At the same time, she’s been praised by the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which speaks well of her record of maintaining balance.”

The Editors, Bloomberg

Regarding judicial philosophy, “While liberals sometimes talk about the ‘living Constitution’ — the idea that as society evolves, our understanding of the Constitution changes — they don’t pretend that it’s some kind of guidebook that tells you the ‘right’ ruling in any given case. But that’s what conservatives claim to possess in their favored ‘philosophy,’ originalism. They say that the original intent of the Framers should be paramount when deciding constitutional questions…

“The truth is that the overwhelming majority of the time, the Framers’ intent is either impossible to discern or utterly irrelevant to the question before us, for the simple reason that they wrote the Constitution almost two and a half centuries ago… Yet conservatives claim to know what Madison and Jefferson would say — and by fortuitous coincidence, their seances with the Framers’ spirits always lead right to their preferred policy outcomes. Funny how that works.”

Paul Waldman, Washington Post

From the Right

The right urges senators to scrutinize Jackson’s judicial philosophy.

The right urges senators to scrutinize Jackson’s judicial philosophy.

“Senate Republicans owe it to the public to be ready on Tuesday with direct questions for Judge Jackson about her views and judicial philosophy. They shouldn’t be complacent about the Supreme Court’s makeup today. Once Justice Breyer steps down, the Court’s elders will be two conservatives, Justices Thomas (age 73) and Samuel Alito (71). Who’s to say they’ll be succeeded by like-minded jurists? Democrats talk like the GOP has locked up the Court for all time, but majorities are precarious in anything but the short run

“Judge Jackson is 51 years old. If she joins the Supreme Court and then retires at the same age as Justice Breyer, it would be in 2054. That is plenty of time for anything to happen. Senators should evaluate Judge Jackson as if she is going to be the swing vote, writing controversial 5-4 majority opinions. Someday not too distant, she might be.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed this weekend that Jackson refused to object to court packing when she met with him earlier this month… Opposition to court packing is not a controversial or even political position. In fact, it’s one held by two of the most persuasive liberal justices to have recently sat on the bench: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. That Jackson refused to make a commitment similar to Ginsburg's and Breyer’s suggests she has a far more radical view of the court and its role than they did…

“Jackson will almost certainly be pressed on this topic during her confirmation hearings this week, which means she will have the chance to clarify her position and assure the public that she will defend the court’s integrity, regardless of what the Left might want her to do. If she refuses, the Senate must vote against her.”

Kaylee McGhee White, Washington Examiner

“As the Senate Judiciary Committee begins its hearings to consider Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court, it’s clear that virtually all Republicans will oppose her. They are right to do so, just as Democrats were right to oppose the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett…

“Over the past century, [the court] has extended its jurisdiction into a wide panoply of predominantly political issues. On many crucial matters, the final word rests with the court, not with Congress or the White House. So it’s entirely reasonable for elected officials to move heaven and earth to ensure their allies control the crucial body…

“We’ve reached this state because the two parties have radically different judicial philosophies. Democrats favor the court expanding its jurisdiction into political matters; Republicans favor a restrictive view, generally deferring to democratically elected bodies at all levels of government rather than making the court the final arbiter of public policy. This is one of the most important political issues of our time… any senator who votes for the opposing party’s nominee would be backing a philosophy they have vowed to oppose.”

Henry Olsen, Washington Post

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