Senator Corey Booker interrupted a busy third day of Supreme Court nomination hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Wednesday with a speech on racial progress that sparked the candidate’s tears and drew the attention of colleagues.
Booker, a black Democrat from New Jersey, said he could no longer contain his emotions from the way Jackson behaved before militant interrogations about how she handles child pornography, her portrayal of accused terrorists and her views on anti-racism. teaching in schools.
“Here you encountered insults that were shocking to me,” Booker said, addressing directly to Jackson, who has been nominated for the position of the first black woman in the High Court.
“No one will take it away from me,” Booker continued, panting as he spoke. Republicans “will accuse you of this and that. But don’t worry, my sister. Don’t worry. God took you. And how do I know that? Because you’re here and I know what it’s for.” you sit in this place. “
Jackson, who sat in silence with her hands clasped, opened her fingers to grab the napkin, and wiped away the tears that ran down her cheeks. It was the first time in nearly two dozen hours of questioning senators when she showed so much emotion.
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Since Jackson’s hearing began Monday, Democratic senators and Republicans have welcomed her nomination as a candidate for history, praised her pedigree and noted her pleasant temperament and sympathetic approach to the law.
But Booker used his remarks to justify Jackson’s promotion to the Supreme Court in a significance that goes beyond simple diversity. In order for Jackson to sit in front of the board, he said, it must overcome systemic barriers and surpass at every level. Only then could she get a chance to break through one of the last racial ceilings in American democracy.
“I want to tell you that when I look at you, I have emotions,” Booker said. “Sorry, you’re a person who is much more than your race and gender. You’re a Christian. You’re a mom. It’s hard for me not to look at you and not see my mom. I’ll see mine and my ancestors.”
He added: “You deserve this place. You deserve it. You are a wonderful American.”
After a day of charged guerrilla warfare, every Republican in the hall gave Booker all his attention. At the time of his remarks the room was quite quiet, except for grins.
Judge Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, Illinois, took a break immediately after Booker’s remarks. Jackson quickly left the room accompanied by her husband.
During the break, a line of people, including Jackson’s father, approached Booker and hugged him, wiping away a few tears.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a white doctor of medicine, later called Booker’s speech “an epic moment in the Senate, and a moral reboot after some really poisonous, cynical behavior that trolled the very bottom of what the Senate did in the dark past.”
When the hearing resumed, a question from Senator Alex Padilla, California, about what inspired young Americans, sparked more emotion in Jackson. She said his comments and question were “very exciting”.
Jackson choked as she told the story of how she walked around Harvard University, feeling she had no place when another black woman she didn’t know passed by and seemed to understand how she felt. “Insist,” the woman told her.
“I hope to inspire people to try to follow this path, because I love this country, because I love the law, because I think it’s important that we all invest in our future,” Jackson said. “And youth is the future.”
Morrison reported from New York. Associated Press authors Mary Claire Jalonik and Kevin Frecking of Washington contributed to this report.