The U.S. Senate is holding confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
Jackson has been questioned over the last few days by the Senate’s 22-person Judiciary Committee. If she passes the Judiciary Committee, her nomination will advance to a vote of the full Senate, where she will require a majority vote to be confirmed.
Who is Ketanji Brown Jackson?
Jackson has worked as a judge and as a public defender (a government employee who defends people accused of crimes who do not have their own legal representation).
In one high profile case as a public defender, she defended a detainee at Guantánamo Bay. In a high profile case as a judge, she sentenced the gunman who stormed the restaurant mentioned in the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory.
Will the Senate Confirm Her Nomination?
Jackson is expected to be confirmed. The Senate currently has 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. Democrat leaders expect all 50 Democrats to support Jackson, and Vice President Kamala Harris has the deciding vote in the event of a tie.
A small number of Republicans may also consider voting for Jackson, including Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney.
What Have Senators Asked About?
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have focused on Jackson’s progressive views and whether she will be an “activist judge” on the Court, including on the subject of ‘critical race theory’ (an academic theory concerning systemic and institutional racism). Jackson has emphasised it is not the proper role of judges to weigh in on policy questions and critical race theory “doesn’t come up” in her work as a judge.
What Would Her Appointment Mean?
Jackson would be the first Black woman in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. She would also be the first former public defender.
However, her appointment is not likely to change the overall political leanings of the Court, as she is replacing another progressive judge, Justice Stephen Breyer.