Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Confirmation Hearing Shows Why She Should Be Confirmed to the Supreme Court
The Senate is considering the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for a seat on the United States Supreme Court. If confirmed to the high court, she will succeed her mentor, Justice Stephen Breyer, who plans to retire when the Court rises for its summer recess.
Judge Jackson has a long track record of leadership and accomplishment, as this week’s confirmation hearings lay bare. The Senate has thrice confirmed Judge Jackson to other important positions, always on a bipartisan basis, including twice to lifetime appointments on the federal bench.
As Common Cause wrote in a letter to every Senator earlier this month urging her confirmation, Judge Jackson’s “leadership in the law, lived experience, and commitment to the Constitution will strengthen the Court’s legitimacy, and by extension, our democracy.”
For more than 200 years, the Supreme Court has met to decide cases without the perspective of a Black woman at the table, and without the perspective of a former public defender. Judge Jackson’s confirmation would mark a historic and overdue step toward fulfilling the promise of a democracy where “We the People”—the first three words of the Constitution that the Supreme Court interprets—includes everyone. A more reflective, representative Court that includes Judge Jackson’s experience will bolster public confidence in democracy.
It is the entirety of Judge Jackson’s record as a jurist and attorney, her demonstrated commitment to justice and the rule of law, combined with her lived experience and perspective she will bring to the Court, that compelled Common Cause to urge her confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Judge Jackson testified for the past three days before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Below is just a small sample of her testimony that may be of interest to readers. All of the below quotes were in response to questions from senators.
- “I believe in transparency: that people should know precisely what I think and the basis for my decision. And all of my professional experiences, including my work as a public defender and as a trial judge, have instilled in me the importance of having each litigant know that the judge in their case has heard them, whether or not their arguments prevail in court.”
- “We want as a country everyone to believe that they can do things like sit on the Supreme Court. And so having meaningful numbers of women and people of color I think matters. I also think that it supports public confidence in the judiciary when you have different people, because we have such a diverse society.”
- “The Supreme Court has said that the right to vote is the basis of our democracy. It is the right upon which all other rights are essentially founded, because in a democracy there is one person, one vote, and there are constitutional amendments that relate directly to the right to vote. It is a fundamental right in our democracy.”
- “The right to vote is protected by our Constitution. The Constitution makes clear that no one is to be discriminated against in terms of their exercise of voting, and the Congress has used its constitutional authority to enact many statutes that are aimed at voting protection.”
- “Our judicial system is one that is designed to uphold the rule of law. Unlike other systems in some other societies, we believe that we have a government of laws, and not men. And yet there are men and women who are acting as judges in the context of our system. What precedent does is ensure that there is consistency across the different individuals who are tasked with the solemn responsibility of interpreting the law. It ensures that there is public confidence that the law is what is guiding judges in their decision-making, and not just their own individual views. And so it’s crucial for maintaining public confidence and maintaining stability in the rule of law. Establishing a system that has predictability in it, all of which supports confidence in the judiciary, which is the currency of the judicial brand.”
- “The legislative branch has certain powers and it can do certain things to ensure that its prerogatives are achieved, and the executive branch has the power of might. The president controls the military. The judicial branch – its force in our system – is the protection of the rule of law, which can only be done by essentially the consent of the governed. It can only be done if people in our society believe, decide, and agree that they are going to follow what it is that courts decide. And so one of the reasons why having a diverse judicial branch is important is because it lends and bolsters public confidence in our system. We have a diverse society in the United States. There are people from all over who come to this great nation, and make their lives. When people see that the judicial branch is comprised of a variety of people who have taken the oath to protect the Constitution, and who are doing their best to interpret the laws consistent with that oath, it lends confidence that the rulings that the court is handing down are fair and just, that everything has been considered, that no one is being excluded because of a characteristic like race or gender or anything else. That’s important.”
- “I do consider myself having been born in 1970 to be the first generation to benefit from the civil rights movement, from the legacy of all of the work of so many people that went into changing the laws in this country so that people like me could have an opportunity to be sitting here before you today. What I would hope to bring to the Supreme Court is very similar to what 115 other justices have brought, which is their life experiences, their perspectives. And mine include being a trial judge; being an appellate judge; being a public defender; being a member of the Sentencing Commission; in addition to my being a Black woman, lucky inheritor of the civil rights dream. And in my capacity as a justice, I would do what I’ve done for the past decade, which is to rule from a position of neutrality, to look carefully at the facts and the circumstances of every case, without any agendas, without any attempt to push the law in one direction or the other, to look only at the facts and the circumstances, interpreting the law consistent with the Constitution and precedents, and to render rulings that I hope that people would have confidence in.”
The Senate is anticipated to vote on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination soon.
We need everyone to contact their senators and urge a “yes” vote.
Want to take action?
Call your senator’s office and log your call here – we have a sample of something suggested you could say. These calls always help to let your senators know this is a priority.
Write a Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper to let your friends and neighbors know about Judge Jackson and your support. We’ve got a great online tool that makes it easy!