Republican lawmakers on Monday promised that they would grill Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing kicked off.
“We will conduct a thorough, exhaustive examination of Judge Jackson’s record and views,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Iowa lawmaker said he and his colleagues “won’t try to turn this into a spectacle based upon alleged process fouls,” as he made a reference to the unusually contentious 2018 hearing on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court.
“What we will do, however, is ask tough questions about Judge Jackson’s judicial philosophy,” he aded.
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina made similar points about questioning Jackson.
“She will be asked about her sentencing practices as a district court judge, and she will have a chance to explain her reasoning, and you can make up for yourself what this means, but it’s good to be asked,” Graham said.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who chairs the the Senate Judiciary Committee, continued his party’s effort to push back on GOP criticisms of President Joe Biden’s pick for the Supreme Court.
“We’ve heard claims that you are quote, ‘soft on crime.’ These baseless charges are unfair,” Durbin told Jackson as her hearing began. “A conservative National Review columnist called claims brought by one of my colleagues quote ‘meritless to the point of demagoguery‘.”
Monday’s proceedings are counting as Day 1 for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Committee members are getting 10 minutes to make opening statements, and then the nominee herself is slated to make a statement.
“This is not a normal day for America,” said Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat and one of three Black senators. “We have never had this moment before.”
Jackson is expected to win Senate confirmation, as Democrats control the 50-50 chamber because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast tie-breaking votes. The judge could pick up some GOP support, given that three Republican senators backed her last year when she was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
But Republicans are also expected to aim to score political points during the hearing, as they look ahead to possible wins in this year’s midterm elections. In addition, some GOP committee members are viewed as 2024 presidential hopefuls who want to make a splash this week, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.
Hawley said he would bring up Jackson’s rulings in child-pornography cases during the question-and-answer session, calling her sentences lenient. “I’m not interested in trapping Judge Jackson,” he said. “I’m interested in her answers.”
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MarketWatch’s Robert Schroeder contributed to this story.