Editorial | Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearings have been a political circus


AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Republican Texas senator Ted Cruz holds up a book as he questions Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court and, if confirmed by the Senate, will be the first Black woman to serve.

This historic moment depicts why representation matters, as Black women across the country have expressed pride and inspiration, yet also discouragement — and the source lies with the Republican party.

Although legal experts anticipated the nomination hearings to operate smoothly, the reality has been anything but that. Over three days of questioning last week, Jackson had her intelligence insulted as some senators posed questions irrelevant to her position. Republicans have been criticized for turning the monumental occasion into a chaotic political circus of sorts.

The Supreme Court is meant to be a nonpartisan body, so why has Jackson’s nomination become a partisan issue? The polarization and disrespect playing out on the national stage once more threatens trust in the court’s ability to make fair decisions — especially when senators’ sentiments are evocative of sexism and racism, and use dog whistles to further their political agenda.

The most notable of the impertinent questions came when Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked Jackson whether she agreed that a book is teaching kids that babies are racist, hoping to score cheap political points by integrating a caricature of Critical Race Theory into the hearing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., infringed upon Jackson’s personal life when he asked about her religion, sparking backlash. He, alongside Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, also wrongly accused Jackson of calling George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld war criminals.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., asked Brown to define “woman,” and when Brown stated that she could not since she is not a biologist, Brown was ridiculed. Blackburn and other Republicans stated that if she is incapable of doing this, then she is unfit to serve on the highest court. But considering Jackson is not a scientist or person tasked with defining words, her restraint in answering a complex question with no simple answer was very appropriate.

None of this is to say that Jackson should be blindly accepted as the new justice, but she should not have to endure the inexcusable treatment demonstrated during her nomination hearings. Black women have long been subjected to subpar treatment in public and professional spaces and, unfortunately, it appears that confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court are no different.

Despite being the most qualified person to serve on the Court if confirmed, Jackson was not given the respect she deserves, speaking volumes to how poorly Black women are treated in this country. Black women deserve more and we owe it to them to change the system — and it starts with greater representation.