President Joe Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee is one step closer to serving on the nation’s highest bench. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Senate confirmation hearing is now underway.
Miami-raised and Harvard-educated, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was a criminal defense lawyer earlier in her career. She’s been serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals since 2021. Before that she was a Federal District Judge in Washington for eight years.
While serving on the Court of Appeals, she was part of the three-judge panel that ruled against President Trump’s bid to stop White House records from being handed over to the House Panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
Jackson’s supporters said she has a keen legal mind and her experience as a trial-court judge is sorely needed on the Supreme Court.
Critics said Jackson is soft on crime, and they have questions about the way she’d interpret the constitution.
“These hearings and the whole process is going to be fair, respectful and thorough,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) said to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “[She’s] clearly very intelligent. We talked about judicial philosophy. I talked about [deceased Supreme Court] Justice [Antonin] Scalia, that the Constitution is a legal document not a living document. I’m less concerned about her statements than I am about [Democratic New York Senator] Chuck Schumer’s statements. He said she’s going to rule with empathy. A judge ought to be making decisions based on the law as written. Not the way they feel about it. He also said ‘check her record’. And going through the record—there are some concerns that people have as her being perceived as soft on crime. That’s all going to come out with the hearings. But they’re going to be respectful. They’re going to be thorough and they’re going to be fair.”
Jackson was nominated to fill the opening Justice Stephen Breyer will leave vacant when he retires this summer. Jackson worked as a law clerk for Breyer early in her career.
As part of the confirmation process, Jackson will face questions from a bipartisan Senate committee. It’s the same committee she saw when she was confirmed to the Court of Appeals last year.