Thoughts On Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Nomination

It was just over a week ago that President Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court being vacated by retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.  I fully intended to write this post sooner, but the war in Ukraine distracted me and pulled my attention in another direction.  However, I do think it’s important that we take a look at Ms. Brown Jackson prior to her confirmation hearing that is scheduled to begin in just over two weeks on March 21st.

The U.S. Supreme Court has been around for 232 years, and during that time 115 justices have served on the Court.  Care to guess how many have been white males?  Go on … take a wild guess.  Let me give you a hint … only 7 … SEVEN … have been either female or Black, and none have been both female and Black.  It’s about damn time, don’t you think?

left to right: Sandra Day O’Connor, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, Elena Kagan (not shown is Amy Barrett)

left to right: Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas

However … I would not be applauding the nomination of a Black woman solely based on her gender and ethnicity, but she must also be well-qualified.  Ketanji Brown Jackson is very well-qualified to sit on the highest court in the nation and I support her nomination enthusiastically!

Jackson has a B.A. in Government, and a Juris Doctor, both from Harvard, both with honours.  She began her judicial career clerking for three federal jurists, including a district court judge in Massachusetts, an appellate judge in the 1st Circuit and Breyer himself.  Later she would serve as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C., where she worked on appellate cases, and served as vice chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission for several years.

President Barack Obama nominated Jackson for a district court judgeship in D.C. near the end of his first term as president, and she was confirmed in early 2013. He also interviewed her as a potential nominee after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.  President Biden nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in March 2021 as a replacement for Merrick Garland who became U.S. Attorney General and she has been serving in that position since last summer.

As you can see, her qualifications are equal to any other member of the Supreme Court including Chief Justice John Roberts.  It is widely believed that she will be confirmed by the Senate, but that doesn’t stop some on the right-hand side of the aisle.  Their complaints?  Well, let’s see …

  • Since she served as a public defender, she must be ‘soft on crime’
  • She refuses to commit to opposing the expansion of the Supreme Court
  • She is being promoted by so-called “dark money” groups

At least part of the real reason for the opposition, of course, is that she is a woman, and she is Black.  Let’s call a spade a spade here … we’ve ALL seen the prejudice among many Republicans … it’s nothing new, but rather old and tiresome.  Another bottom-line reason for Republican opposition to Jackson is that during her time on the District Court, she wrote a number of opinions that were not favourable to the whims of Donald Trump.  In one such ruling, she ordered Trump’s former White House counsel Donald McGahn to comply with a legislative subpoena, writing that “Simply put, the primary takeaway from 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings.”.  Truer words were never spoken, but needless to say those who have clung to Trump’s coattails will consider that a strike against her.

At the end of the day, I believe that Ketanji Brown Jackson will be confirmed by the Senate in part because the Republican contingent has little to lose.  There are already five conservative judges on the Court – some would say six, counting Chief Justice Roberts, though I consider him to be more non-partisan than, say, Brett Kavanaugh or Amy Barrett.  The confirmation of Jackson would not change the overall balance … or rather, ‘unbalance’ … of the Court, and the senators know this.  Any objections to her confirmation would be for show, to be able to say to their constituents that they ‘tried to keep a Black woman off the Court’.

What I find more disturbing than the stated objections to Ms. Jackson’s nomination is the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has become just another partisan branch of the federal government, which is NOT what was intended when the framers wrote the Constitution.  Impartial justice – is it no longer important to the people of this country?  Are partisan politics, is “winning”, the only thing that matters anymore?

35 thoughts on “Thoughts On Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Nomination

  1. ‘Dark money’ uh?…As opposed to getting ‘donations’ and freebie visits from Russian Oligarchs????….. Just askin’ that’s all.
    Oh BTW…the Republicans must be getting sloppy, I don’t see anyone accusing her of being a socialist

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill,
    I think Jackson is more qualified than most of the sitting justices. Days before her nomination, I wrote a brief Black History month tribute to the Black women who have been the stalwarts of our democracy, and I mentioned her as my favorite among the all greatly qualified women under consideration bc of her public defender experience. She is the first in this regard, offering a very important perspective. She’s also upbeat and a consensus builder!
    You may have seen this Linda Greenhouse essay about her, but I think it’s worth including in any discussion about Judge Jackson.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/04/opinion/supreme-court-biden-jackson.amp.html
    As to the SC itself, once we save democracy in 2022, we gotta expand the Court!😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, as do most of the legal analysts, that Jackson is as qualified or more qualified than at least half of the current justices. I shall go in search of your aforementioned post … I’d like to read it! Personally, I think her experience as a public defender is a positive thing, but of course others think it makes her “soft on crime”. I did see the Linda Greenhouse essay and I agree … it’s a worthy piece, so thank you for sharing it. I was opposed to expanding the Court until just over a year ago when Barrett was shoved down our throats and hustled onto the bench with ZERO qualification after the fiasco in 2016 whereby McConnell refused to even talk to Merrick Garland, but rather let Scalia’s seat remain vacant for a year rather than allow Obama to appoint a justice in his last year. Too many games are being played by politicos and now yes, I do think it’s time to expand the Court! It’ll be a tough sell, though, so I’m not holding my breath.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Thoughts On Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Nomination. |jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  4. I’m puzzled by how much the appointments of the judiciary is politicised in the US. That a country that has a written constitution almost two and a half centuries old should appoint judges based on political partisanship is appalling from my perspective. I’m not persuaded that politicians are the best arbiters on what makes a good judge.

    Other nations have found ways to keep politics out of the selection and appointment of the judiciary, and even here in Aotearoa New Zealand where we don’t have a formal constitution, appointments are completely apolitical, and by convention, are not discussed either at cabinet level nor at a political level. I often wonder why the observing of conventions as occurs here instead of a formal constitution that’s very difficult to alter as in the US should result in a less divisive and less partisan form of government and provide its citizens with greater freedoms.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Heck, I’ve lived here for my entire 70 years and I’M puzzled! It has become obvious in the past decade or so that we cannot trust partisan politicians to determine who would be a good judge. The politicos today aren’t looking for a fair and impartial judge, but rather for one who will toe their own party line. This became obvious when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kept a Supreme Court seat vacant for a year rather than allow President Obama to have his nominee even considered. And since then, it has gotten even worse with the last two justices confirmed being partisan hacks without the proper qualifications to sit on the highest court in the land.

      I suspect that the answer to your question about “why the observing of conventions as occurs here instead of a formal constitution that’s very difficult to alter as in the US should result in a less divisive and less partisan form of government and provide its citizens with greater freedoms” is that in some ways, the Constitution has become outdated, yet when it suits their purposes, certain politicos will translate it literally, as if the world had not evolved. That’s obviously an over-simplification, but it would take an entire post to delve into those who translate the Constitution literally and those who understand that the document was intended to grow and evolve as the nation did.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I suppose in one way, observing and respecting constitutional conventions could be seen as a living or evolving constitution that progressively, in tiny steps, keeps pace with the changing face of society. On the other hand, there’s little “protection” from abuse should those in power wish to ignore convention. I put quotation marks around protection deliberately as there are many examples of written constitutions that in theory guarantee the rights and freedoms that you and I enjoy, but in practice, can be used to suppress them. Russia would be one example. And as we have seen in American history, the US constitution, despite its wording, has not provided the same rights, freedoms and privileges to all American citizens.

        Liked by 2 people

        • There are actually two distinct types of justices when it comes to interpreting the Constitution. One is called ‘textualists’ and they believe that the Constitution must be applied exactly as written back in 1787. The other see the Constitution as a foundation, a guideline, a living document that was intended to grow and adjust as things evolved, such as technology. The Republicans largely prefer textualists who do not stray from the very words of the authors of the documents, while Democrats lean more toward realizing that life has changed and the document must bend in order to address those changes. And, if you think about it, one good example of the reason to consider it a living, breathing document that bends is women’s rights. When the document was written, women were basically chattel with no right to divorce her husband, no right to own property, and no right to vote. Obviously, much has changed in those areas over the past 2.5 centuries! Sigh. No, you’re right, even today not everybody has equal rights in a number of areas. And women are about to lose even more of their rights under the current Supreme Court this summer. Sigh.

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  5. Winning is the only thing that matters when you have no legitimate platform and you’re not moved by ethics or fairness. These political Turds would not know a fair fight if it hit them square between the eyes and the current far right hacks on the Supreme Court Bench know they are there through malfeasance and cheating specifically to circumvent the laws of the land.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, apparently so. Today’s Republican Party has only one goal … to dominate. No concern for the people nor the country … just win elections and oust every Democrat. There are at least two on the Court — Kavanaugh and Barrett — who are not qualified to be Supreme Court Justices, but nevertheless the Republicans in the Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, hurried their nominations to a vote and quickly placed them on the bench. And that, after McConnell refused to even talk to Merrick Garland after Justice Scalia died 11 months before the end of Obama’s term. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Bear with me, please. I have been waiting for a post to sum up BLACK HISTORY MONTH, 2022. This post is not about history, yet, but it will become history if she is confirmed to the Supreme Court. It would be a perfect ending, especially if she is confirmed. So why have I been waiting? Because I want to ask when is Red History Month? Or Yellow History Week? Or Brown History Day? America is NOT just Black and White. It has every colour and race making up its citizenry. If it is taking over 250 years to get a Black Woman on the Supreme Court, how long is it going to take to get a Red Man on the bench, or a Yellow Woman, or a Brown Person? Every race and gender should be represented on this supposed-to-be “august body.” It is time the court represent every person in America, starting with race and gender, and then moving on to sexual persuation, class position, ability/diability, and whatever else a reasonable person can think of. Every person in America should be an equal citizen, and every citizen should be equally represented.
    This is my dream.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had every intention of posting a few more Black History Month posts, but the situation in Ukraine rather derailed my plans. However, I still plan to write a few more Black History posts in the near future.

      I get your point, and … you’re quite right. There are others who are the victims of racism and deserve to have their history highlighted. We focus on Blacks more today because the crimes committed by white people against them are more recent and actually still ongoing, but certainly we need to talk about the history of our brutality toward Asians, Indigenous People, Hispanic people, and more.

      I share your dream, but of late I am convinced that it will never be realized. People are possessed of a fatal flaw — arrogance — and they seem incapable of putting aside such things as ethnicity, skin colour, religion, gender, etc.

      Like

      • Just one thing, and I’ll move on. Red, yellow, and brown people are still being racialized today. The big events may have been years ago, but to think they are in the past is a failure in reality checking.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks, Jill. Yes, I support Jackson’s appointment to the court. And I am appalled by the way that the court has been politicized in recent years (or, maybe since the Reagan presidency, which was not all that recent).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it may have started during the Reagan administration, but it has gotten considerably more politicized and partisan in the last 10-12 years. I think I first really noticed it in the final year of President Obama’s term when McConnell refused to even talk to Merrick Garland, preferring to leave Scalia’s seat vacant for nearly a year than allow Obama to nominate a justice. And then, look how quickly he brought a vote on Barrett. Double standard? Heck yes!

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