Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson Senate confirmation hearing

On Thursday, the Senate confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination ended. For this confirmation vote, the Senate is split 50-50 along party lines. Democrats expect to have all 50 of their caucus members vote to confirm. With the Vice President’s tiebreaker, that would be enough for Jackson to become the newest Supreme Court Justice and the first Black woman to serve as on the Court.

According to Politico, Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin is hoping for a bipartisan vote, but most Republicans in the Senate will likely vote against Jackson’s appointment.

The hearings started on March 21, with students from Louisiana’s Southern University Law Center flying in from Baton Rouge to support Jackson outside the Capitol. During her opening statement, Jackson thanked her family and mentors, including Justice Stephen Breyer, for whom she clerked and would be replacing. Referencing Breyer's opening statement when he was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice, Brown addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee: “If I am confirmed, I commit to you that I will work productively to support and defend the Constitution and the grand experiment of American democracy that has endured over these past 246 years.”

For the next three days, Senate Republicans led tense questioning, including interrogations from South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz about Brown's sentencing of defendants in child pornography cases. Senator Cruz also questioned her about critical race theory (CRT).

According to Cruz, the curriculum at Georgetown Day School, where Brown is a board member, is “filled and overflowing with critical race theory.” He asked her about her stance on teaching CRT in schools, bringing out a number of books as examples, including “How to Be Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi, and Kendi’s picture book “Antiracist Baby,” of which he presented enlarged pages. He also referenced “The End of Policing” by Alex S. Vitale, which received a rise in sales after Cruz held it up during the hearing.

In her answers, Jackson pointed out that CRT is an academic framework that does not affect her court decisions. “It doesn’t come up in my work as a judge,” she said. “It’s never something that I’ve studied or relied on, and it wouldn’t be something that I would rely on if I was on the Supreme Court.” She also clarified that Georgetown Day School is a private school, so the Court would have no jurisdiction over what is taught, and that as a board member, she does not have input about the materials used in the school.

Jackson’s confirmation hearing has been a relatively smooth process compared to past Supreme Court Justice nominees. Senator Durbin announced that there will be an executive session for the committee on March 28, but the actual date of the vote can be pushed back to April 4.