WASHINGTON – Supreme Court candidate Ketanjie Brown Jackson will face senators for the first time on Tuesday as Democrats seek to quickly confirm the only black female judge in the court’s 233-year history.

Jackson, a judge of the Federal Court of Appeals, sat and silently listened to more than four hours of senators ’introductory statements on Monday, the first of four days of a Judicial Committee hearing on her nomination. When senators begin a 30-minute round of roasting on Tuesday, she will respond to their specific points, including accusing some Republicans of being too lenient in sentencing in criminal cases.

In her own 12-minute statement, Jackson did not mention specific cases, but told the committee she would “apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or assistance, in accordance with my oath,” if it were confirmed.

Jackson, 51, thanked God and confessed his love for “our country and the Constitution.” She stressed that for nine years she had been independent as a federal judge, deciding cases “from a neutral position.”

While Republicans promised clear questions, Democrats were full of praise for Supreme Court nominee Joe Biden. Legal Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said that to be the first, “you often have to be the best, in something the bravest.”

Biden elected Jackson in February, fulfilling a campaign commitment to nominate black women to the Supreme Court for the first time in U.S. history. She will replace Judge Stephen Breyer, who announced in January that he would retire after 28 years in court.

Senator Corey Booker, DN.J., emotionally spoke of the “joy” he felt from her historic nomination, and acknowledged the honor of her family. Booker, who is Black, said white people who sat in the Supreme Court for two centuries were “extraordinary patriots who helped shape this country,” but many people could never dream of sitting in court.

Jackson will be the third black judge after Turgud Marshall and Clarence Thomas and the sixth woman.

“If the next generation behind us looks at the highest courts in the country, that ideal will become more real,” Booker said.

With the exception of unexpected events, Democrats, who control the Senate at the very least, hope to complete Jackson’s approval by Easter, though Breyer will not leave the court until after the current session ends this summer. Democrat leaders are hoping for some Republican support, but can confirm it with the support of only 50-50 Senate Democrats, as Vice President Kamala Harris can vote.

In an introductory statement, Democrats in the Judiciary tried to disprove Republicans’ criticism of Jackson’s criminal use as a judge, including as a federal attorney and member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency set up by Congress to reduce disparities in the federation.

Jackson “is not an anti-law enforcement agency” and is not “soft on crime,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, the administration, noting that members of the Jackson family worked in law enforcement and that it has the support of some national police organizations. “Judge Jackson is not a judicial activist.”

The committee’s senior Republican, Sen. Chuck Grasley of Iowa, has vowed that Republicans will “ask tough questions about Jackson’s judicial philosophy” without turning the hearing into a “spectacle.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., noted that Democrats opposed some past Republican candidates who were black or Latinos, and said he and his Republican counterparts would not stop Jackson’s race from asking sensible questions.

Graham said of some criticism from the left: “It’s about us being racist when we ask tough questions.” It will not fly with us. “

Graham was one of three Republicans who supported Jackson’s approval, 53-44, as appellate judge last year. But over the past few weeks he has said he is unlikely to vote for her again.

Although few Republicans will vote for her, most Republican senators have not criticized Jackson, whose confirmation will not change the Conservative majority in court 6-3. Several Republicans used their time to condemn Senate Democrats rather than Jackson’s record.

Republicans are trying to use her nomination to denounce Democrats as soft on crime, which is a theme in Republican midterm campaigns. Biden has selected several former public defenders for lifelong judicial positions.

As Jackson took notes, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Said in his opening remarks that his study showed she had a scheme of lesser sentences in child pornography cases, echoing comments he tweeted last week. . The Republican National Committee reiterated his statements in explosive messages to supporters.

The White House, along with several Democrats at the hearing, dismissed Howley’s criticism as “toxic and underrepresented.” Former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who runs Jackson in the Senate, told reporters after Tuesday and Wednesday “she will be the one to answer many of these questions.”

Hawley is one of several Republicans on the committee, along with Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotan of Arkansas, who are potential presidential candidates for 2024, and their aspirations may clash with other Republicans who prefer not stick to scorched earth until Jackson’s nomination.

Members of the judicial board are already familiar with Jackson, who appeared before them last year after Biden selected her to attend the federal appeals court in Washington. She was also screened by the committee and approved by the Senate as a district court judge under President Barack Obama and in a position on the sentencing commission.

Jackson expressed gratitude and love to her husband Patrick Jackson, a surgeon from Washington, who wore socks with the image of George Washington and from time to time wiped away tears. Their two daughters, one in college and the other in high school, also studied, as did Jackson’s parents and relatives.

While the focus was on Senate hearings, the Supreme Court itself sat on Monday, but one chair was empty. The 73-year-old Thomas, the judge with the longest tenure in court, was in hospital on treatment for the infection. He does not have COVID-19, the court said in a statement.

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Associated Press authors Lisa Mascara, Jessica Gresco, 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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