The 5 Key Moments (So Far) from Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings


Confirmation hearings for President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, federal judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, began this week, and to say the proceedings have been eventful would be an understatement. If confirmed by the Senate, Jackson would be the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice, and true to form, she’s had to put up with some true…well, I can only call it “racist nonsense” from the GOP over the past few days.

Seeing a responsible adult bear up admirably under questioning instead of devolving into red-faced sputters about liking beer was certainly a refreshing departure from the 2018 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but Jackson’s session before the Senate still had plenty of aggravating moments. Find a full roundup of the hearings’ key moments below.

Sen. Ted Cruz asked Jackson if she thinks babies are racist.

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Cruz brought up Jackson’s position on the board of Georgetown Day School, which teaches a progressive curriculum that includes books like Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracist Baby, asking Jackson if she believes babies are racist. Her response, which focused on the fact that she is not an educator at Georgetown Day School, was classy in the extreme: “I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist, or though they are not valued, or though that they are less than, that they are victims, that they are oppressors.” (Jackson is obviously infinitely more educated on this subject, but I’d like to chime in that if young children are old enough to display racial bias, they’re probably old enough to learn about it.)

Jackson elegantly shut down an inappropriate line of questioning about her faith.

Sen. Lindsey Graham badgered Jackson about how important her faith is to her, asking, “On a scale of one to 10, how faithful would you say you are, in terms of religion?” She confirmed that her Christian faith was a major part of her life while noting that “there’s no religious test in the Constitution.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn asked Jackson to define the word “woman.”

Blackburn went on what felt like a Mad Libs rant about various issues related to gender, from abortion rights to gender identity in schools, asking Jackson to define the word “woman.” Jackson declined, responding, “I’m not a biologist.” As some lawyer from some late-night cable movie once said (I think? Or maybe it was a West Wing character?), if you don’t like the question, don’t accept the premise!

We got some insight into Jackson’s philosophy as a jurist.

“I am acutely aware that as a judge in our system I have limited power and I am trying in every case to stay in my lane,” said Jackson on Tuesday, describing the methodology she uses to weigh in on cases in detail (which includes trying “to figure out what the words mean as they were intended by the people who wrote them”).

Jackson took the time to honor her roots.

While the Republican senators grilling Jackson seemed determined to drag her headlong into the culture wars, she stayed focused on her long legacy of hard work buoyed by family support, saying that despite not having much formal education, her grandparents were the “hardest working people I’ve ever known and who just got up every day, put one foot after the other, and provided for their families and made sure that their children went to college, even though they never had those opportunities. I stand on the shoulders of people from that generation.”


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