Although Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson won’t face the harsh political vitriol Democrats dumped on Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, warned that Republicans should not rubber-stamp her confirmation to the Supreme Court, hearings for which began today.
“One thing I can promise you: We’re not going to replay the political circus the Democrats gave us with Justice Kavanaugh; you’re not going to see Republicans go into the gutter; you’re not going to see personal smears; you’re not going to see the nastiness,” said Senator Cruz in an interview.
“But we do have a responsibility to carefully, to vigorously vet her record.”
Cruz continued, “One vote can make the difference between whether our rights are protected or taken away, and so we have a responsibility to do everything we can to shine a light on her record, on her approach, to understand what kind of justice she’d be.”
President Joe Biden nominated Judge Jackson after he promised to nominate the first black woman for the Supreme Court during his campaign.
Republican-nominated justices have faced fierce, contentious Senate confirmations over the years, particularly those of Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh and former nominee Robert Bork.
“I hope we have a very vigorous confirmation hearing,” said Cruz when asked if Republicans might allow Jackson to be confirmed without much debate in the Senate.
No commitments of support for Jackson
Republicans say they have had “productive conversations” with Judge Jackson in recent days. Calling her “impressive” and “well-qualified,” many GOP members have posed for photo ops with Jackson but have no formal commitments to support her nomination to the Supreme Court.
Judge Jackson currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and could soon become the first Black woman appointed to the Supreme Court.
Jackson met privately with over a dozen Republican lawmakers after President Biden named her his pick to replace retiring Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.
The interview process has included extended visits with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and leaders from both parties.
Sticking points Republicans have cited regarding Jackson include her efforts to reduce the mandatory minimum guidelines during her time at the U.S. Sentencing Commission, whether she views the U.S. Constitution as the final word on jurisprudence or an ideological jumping-off points, and arguments she made on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainees during her time as a public defender.
Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, recently requested more of Judge Jackson’s records from the Sentencing Commission.
“How do you know what’s missing until we get it all?” Grassley told reporters. He also added that Judiciary members already have “500 of her cases to go through” to prepare for the cross-examination in committee.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri praised Jackson after meeting with her but repeated Grassley’s records request, declining to predict the outcome.
“I thought the White House started well on this by saying, yeah, we’ll meet with every senator who wants to meet, we’ll do the meetings in person,” said Hawley. “I would say, ‘Keep on that line, give us the documents, and move forward.’ But we’ll see.”
Judge Jackson has already met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, centrist Joe Manchin and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.