Legal analysts weigh in on significance of Brown Jackson’s SCOTUS confirmation hearing

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic Senate confirmation hearings began on Monday.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar opened her remarks by commenting on the significance of this moment in American history.

“One hundred and fifteen judges have served so far in our history – you are the first black woman, and it is high time,” Klobuchar said. “You, Judge, are opening a door that has long been closed to so many and through your strong presence, your skills, your experience, you are showing so many little girls and boys across the country that everything and nothing anything is possible.”

Klobuchar highlighted Brown Jackson’s time as a federal public defender, vice chairman of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, district court judge and appellate court judge. According to Klobuchar, the judge’s nine years of judicial experience exceeds the experience of four other judges at the time of their confirmation.

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Republican lawmakers, however, voiced their criticism of the 51-year-old. Senator John Cornyn of Texas has questioned his record defending Guantanamo Bay detainees as a federal public defender. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has also raised concerns about the sentences she has given to perpetrators of child pornography.

“There’s not much on his record that Republicans can point to, but they will try to raise some issues, typical issues for their base,” said Patrick Schmidt, a political science professor at Macalester College.

He expects committee members to question Brown Jackson on high-profile issues during the confirmation process.

“Certainly try to get him to express his views on abortion, reproductive rights, criminal defense, civil liberties, on a variety of issues,” he said. “Republicans probably aren’t as concerned about it now as they might be because it’s not a nomination that should tip the scales of the court.”

Brown Jackson is set to replace outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer, which won’t change the Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority.

Schmidt expects Brown Jackson’s past experience to be an advantage for the judge during this process.

“Having certainly been nominated three times, having gone through the Senate confirmation process, there are few surprises in her record,” he said. “The Senate saw her recently when she was confirmed in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and even in that process she won Republican votes so the whole burden would be on the Republicans there to see why it should not be confirmed. again.”

In her opening remarks, Brown Jackson told committee members that she decides cases “from a neutral place” and pledged to “work productively to uphold and defend the Constitution.”

RELATED: Jackson pledges to decide cases ‘without fear or favour’

“This is a lifetime appointment and we want someone who is going to uphold the Constitution of the United States, but also has an educated and thoughtful lens, and has strong analysis and strong analytical skills. “, said Maikieta Brantley, visiting assistant professor. of law at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. “I think Judge Brown [Jackson] will bring that.

Brantley is also an associate board member of the Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program, a nonprofit that aims to expand professional opportunities for female law students of color.

“[Black women] only make up about 2% of all lawyers nationwide, but we’re just as qualified as our counterparts and it’s time for us to sit on the Supreme Court,” Brantley said. “When I think about my trajectory as a lawyer and on the Supreme Court, I’ve never seen anyone who looked like me, and finally I can. I see Judge Jackson and not only does she look like me, but she is extremely qualified.

Brantley said Brown Jackson’s background as a public defender stands out and she thinks it would bring a fresh perspective to the Supreme Court. She plans to go through the process, as she did with Judge Amy Coney Barrett two years ago.

“I really want to hear questions about whether she’s dissented in the past and why she’s dissented on certain issues,” Brantley said. “I’m interested to see if she’s ever taken an option that the current Supreme Court hasn’t and if that would affect subsequent opinions that we might see later.”

Both Brantley and Schmidt expect the hearings to go quickly. They highlighted Coney Barrett’s quick confirmation, which came less than a month after his 2020 nomination.

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