WASHINGTON – Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has faced a flurry of Republicans questioning on Wednesday about her sentencing as her historic attempt to enter the Supreme Court shifted from high constitutional issues to attacks on her motivations.

On the last day of the Senate interrogation, she said she would rule “without any agendas” as the first black female judge in the Supreme Court, and rejected Republicans’ efforts to call her lenient to crimes in ten years on the federal bench.

Criticism of the Republican Party at the approval hearing was interspersed with boisterous praise from Democrats and reflections on the historical nature of her nomination – no more exciting in the hall than from New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker, who used his time not to ask questions. , and to speak with tears and pull tears from Jackson as well.

Booker, who is Black, said he sees “my ancestors and yours” when he looks at her. “I know you need to sit here, in this place,” he said. “You deserve this place.”

Jackson was silent while Booker spoke, but tears rolled down her face as the family sat behind her.

Jackson was in tears for the second time after similar praise from Senator Alex Padilla and told a California Democrat that she hopes to be an inspiration because “I love this country because I love the law.”

Although her approval seems almost certain – Democrats are vying to vote before Easter – Republicans have continued to try to break her record.

For more than 12 hours of testimony Tuesday and again on Wednesday, Republican senators aggressively questioned her about the sentences she handed down to child pornography offenders for nine years as a federal judge, her legal defense on behalf of terror. suspects at Guantanamo, her thoughts on critical race theory and even her religious views.

Asked about the case for positive action at Harvard University, her alma mater, where she now serves on the Supervisory Board, Jackson said she would divert herself. “This is my plan,” she replied when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz asked her about it.

In the fall, the court will hear complaints about the race’s admission to college, in lawsuits filed by Asian-American applicants from a private Harvard institution and a public school at the University of North Carolina. The court currently plans to consider lawsuits against the two schools together, but may separate them and give Jackson a chance to get involved in what will become one of the biggest problems in the next term.

Republicans spent most of Wednesday focusing on her sentencing, particularly in child pornography cases, as on Tuesday. The term was rising over the course of the day when Senate Legal Committee Chairman Dick Durbin was hit with a hammer at one point when Cruz refused to give up after his time was up while he roasted Jackson.

“You can get as many as you want,” Cruz snapped, shouting that he just wanted Jackson to answer his question.

“At some point you have to follow the rules,” Durbin replied.

In another round of intense interrogations, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham questioned Jackson about a sentence she deems appropriate for people convicted of child pornography. Like Cruz and other committee members, Graham said she was too lenient with these criminals. Graham often interrupted her when she answered indirectly; at one point he said the judges should just “put them in jail!”

The focus of the sentencing was part of a larger effort by committee committee Republicans – some of whom are potential presidential candidates – to characterize Jackson’s track record and her judicial philosophy as too sympathetic and lenient toward criminals who commit the worst crimes. It also reflected the emphasis on crime in the Republican Party’s by-elections.

North Carolina Sen. Tom Tillis told Jackson that she seems “a very good person” – but “there is at least a level of empathy that goes into your treatment of the defendant that some might see as more than what some of us would be comfortable with.” as far as the administration of justice is concerned. “

Steady attention to her reputation suggests that, contrary to Democrat hopes, Jackson’s vote in the full Senate is unlikely to get much support from Republicans. However, several Republicans have admitted she is likely to be on the court. Democrats can reaffirm it without any bipartisan support in the 50-to-50 Senate, as Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a ballot.

Jackson, backed by committee Democrats, said Republicans mischaracterize her decisions. Asked whether her decisions endangered children, she told the committee on Tuesday: “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

She said she bases the verdicts on many factors, not just federal recommendations. Sentencing is not a “game of numbers”, she said, noting that there are no mandatory sentences for sex offenders and that there is considerable debate in this regard.

According to her, some cases caused her nightmares and were “some of the worst I’ve seen.”

Jackson said that if she is confirmed, she will do what she did as a federal judge, “that is, carry a decision from a position of neutrality, carefully consider the facts and circumstances of each case without any agendas, without any attempts push the law in one direction or another. “

She reminded the committee that her brother and two uncles served as police officers, and that “crime, and influence on society, and the need for law enforcement are not abstract concepts or political slogans for me.”

President Joe Biden elected Jackson in February, fulfilling his campaign commitment to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. She will replace Judge Stephen Breyer, who announced in January that he would retire this summer after 28 years.

Jackson will be the third black judge after Turgud Marshall and Clarence Thomas and the sixth woman. Her confirmation will keep the current Conservative majority at 6-3 in court. She will also be the first former public defender in court and the first judge with experience representing low-income defendants after Marshall.

Some of the most militant rounds of interrogations during the hearings came from potential presidential candidates from the Republican Party, including Cruz, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. All touch on issues that are popular at the Republican Party base, including attacks on critical racial theory, the idea that racism is systemic in state institutions. Jackson said the idea did not arise in her work as a judge, and in the event of confirmation it “would not be something I would have hoped for.”

Asked about abortions, Jackson readily agreed with comments that conservative judges Amy Connie Barrett and Brett Cavanaugh had made about two landmark cases where they were approved. “Rowe and Casey are a sustained Supreme Court law concerning the right to terminate a woman’s pregnancy. They have created a framework that the court has upheld,” Jackson said.

Even now, the court is deciding whether to dismiss those cases that confirm the national right to abortion.

Towards the end of Tuesday’s lengthy hearing, Sen. John F. Kennedy, R-La., Asked Jackson when life begins. She told him she did not know, and added, without specifying, “I have religious views that I reject when deciding matters.”


Associated Press authors Jessica Gresco, Lisa Mascara, Josh Boke, Colin Long and Kevin Frecking of Washington and Aaron Morrison of New York contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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