What Ketanji Brown Jackson May Be Asked at Hearings

OMonday, D.C. For what could be her most significant job interview, Circuit Judge Ketanji Jackson Brown Jackson will appear before 22 Senators.

On February 25, President Joe Biden appointed Jackson to the Supreme Court. The reaction from GOP Senators was generally muted. Democrats narrowly control the Senate, and there’s little Republicans can do to block her confirmation. She also won’t swing the ideological makeup of the court, given she’s expected to fill retiring Justice Stephen Breyer’s role in the liberal minority. Add in the fact that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dominated the news in recent weeks, and Jackson’s confirmation process may be more straightforward than the bitter Supreme Court battles of recent years.

Jackson will perform on March 21st Four days of public hearings will be held before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee’s top ranking Republican, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, told Jackson that he plans to keep the process professional and collegial, a source familiar with the meeting told TIME.

But that doesn’t mean she won’t face sharp questioning from GOP committee members about different elements of her record. “The win for the Republicans is this: it’s 100% partisan vote with no Republican votes to confirm,” says a former GOP Senate aide, granted anonymity to speak candidly about the process. “They don’t personally have to attack her, but they don’t have to help her.”

Recent weeks have seen a number of Republican attacks. Jackson is expected to be asked about her work from 2005 to 2007 as a federal public defender, and Republicans have previewed criticism of her being “soft on crime.” She will likely be probed on her rulings against the Trump Administration during her time as a D.C. District Court judge, and questioned on whether politics inform her judicial philosophy.

Here’s a look at some of the questions Jackson will face in her confirmation hearings.

Record of her criminal justice record

Jackson, if confirmed will become the Supreme Court Justice with substantial experience representing criminal defendants indigents. From 2005 to 2007, she was a federal public defense in D.C. Jackson was vice-chair of the U.S. Senate Bipartisan Committee from 2010 through 2014. Sentencing Commission. This was a time when the Commission reassessed 100-to-1 crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparities.

Biden praised the diversity of her professional experience in his nomination, and her selection is in line with the White House’s recent trend of nominating federal judges with careers outside of the typical backgrounds of prosecutors or corporate lawyers.

But Jackson’s experience working in the criminal justice system may also be a pressure point Republicans can push on. On Tuesday, McConnell said in a floor speech that the “soft-on-crime brigade is squarely in Judge Jackson’s corner.”

The White House has seemingly been conscious of this line of attack, stressing the multiple law enforcement officers in Jackson’s family and pointing to endorsements by the National Fraternal Order of Police, dozens of top law enforcement officials, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and 83 Republican and Democratic former attorneys general.

Sen. Grassley may also request that she be allowed to serve on the Sentencing Commission. Jackson wrote emails while working for the federal government and requested the email addresses of the committee. As of Thursday, Grassley’s office says they have still not received the documents that they need from either the National Archives or the Sentencing Commission. “Which is seriously problematic, because President Biden and Chairman Durbin have both pointed to her time on the Sentencing Commission as a critical item on her resume, and we ought to be able to take a look at it,” says Grassley’s Communications Director Taylor Foy.

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley (Republican on the Judiciary Committee) showed his attack on Jackson’s Wednesday. tweeting that he sees an “alarming pattern” of Judge Jackson’s “treatment of sex offenders” throughout her legal career. Jackson gave child pornography offender children lighter sentences than the federal guidelines in several instances, he claimed. When asked for comment, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement that Hawley’s attack “relies on taking cherry-picked elements of her record out of context – and it buckles under the lightest scrutiny,” and added: “In the overwhelming majority of her cases involving child sex crimes, the sentences Judge Jackson imposed were consistent with or above what the government or U.S. Probation recommended.”

It was her work with Guantanamo bay detainees

Jackson will likely be asked about her representation of Guantanamo bay detainees.

While working as an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C. from 2005 to 2007, Jackson represented detainee Khi Ali Gul in his request for habeas review of his legal classification as an “enemy combatant.” (The case was ultimately consolidated with other habeas petitions and moved to a different district judge.) Jackson was able to list the case among the ten most important cases in her career during her Judiciary Committee nomination. Circuit in last year.

In the following years, while working in private practice at the law firm Morrison & Foerster, Jackson worked on several amicus briefs filed on behalf of groups in Supreme Court cases dealing with Guantanamo Bay. One of those cases was 2008’s Boumediene v. Bush, The court ruled that military prisoners can challenge their detention in court.

Both Hawley and Texas Senator John Cornyn, another Republican on the committee, told reporters that they’d like to hear more about her work involving Guantanamo detainees. And a fact sheet about Jackson released by the Republican National Committee described Jackson as having advocated for “terrorists” in a manner that was “zealous” and “beyond just giving them a competent defense.”

Jackson had already been questioned regarding this work at her confirmation hearings to the D.C. Last year, the Circuit. At that time, Jackson told Senators that she was “among the many lawyers who were keenly aware of the threat that the 9-11 attacks had posed to foundational constitutional principles, in addition to the clear danger to the people of the United States.”

She has made a number of rulings regarding the Trump Administration

Jackson was elected to the Sentencing Commission and served until 2021 as D.C. District Court Judge. There, she was involved in several cases that involved the Trump Administration.

She ruled that Donald Trump’s White House Counsel Don McGahn could respond to a subpoena under absolute immunity in 2019. “Presidents are not kings,” Jackson wrote in the decision. “They do not have subjects bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.”

In 2018, Jackson also sided with a group of federal employee unions who had challenged several of Trump’s executive orders on the grounds that they limited their collective bargaining rights. This decision was eventually overturned by appeal.

Jackson was quizzed about her decisions in the 2021 confirmation hearings of D.C. Circuit Court. These accusations will probably come back, as Senators examine whether her political views influence her approach to judging. These accusations were refuted by her last year.

Reproductive rights: Her records

Jackson’s career has rarely touched the topic of abortion. Jackson’s career has not touched the topic of abortion very often. This is especially true given the fact that this summer, the Supreme Court will rule on whether the Constitution allows for abortion. (If confirmed, Jackson isn’t expected to take the bench until the start of its next term.)

In 2001, while working at the law firm Goodwin Procter, Jackson co-wrote an amicus brief on behalf of reproductive rights groups supporting a law in Massachusetts that created a “buffer zone” surrounding pedestrians and vehicles approaching abortion clinics where abortion opponents could not protest. It was eventually implemented.

In 2018, while serving as a district judge, Jackson ruled against the Trump Administration’s decision to end federal funding for a teenage pregnancy prevention program without providing a reason, saying the decision was “arbitrary and capricious.” That same year, Jackson ruled in favor of a class action lawsuit that challenged the same termination of the program’s funding.

Here are more must-read stories from TIME

Send an email to Madeleine Carlisle at


Related Articles

Back to top button