(The Center Square) – The U.S. Senate held the first day of confirmation hearings Monday for President Joe Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court, kicking off the consideration of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Jackson, 51, serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She would replace Justice Stephen Breyer. He announced his retirement last month.
“Justice Breyer not only gave me the greatest job that any young lawyer could ever hope to have,” Jackson said in her testimony, referring to her clerkship for the retiring Justice. “But he also exemplifies what it means to be a Supreme Court Justice of the highest level of skill and integrity, civility, and grace. It is extremely humbling to be considered for Justice Breyer’s seat, and I know that I could never fill his shoes.
“But if confirmed, I would hope to carry on his spirit,” she added.
Democrats pointed to the potential historic significance if the Senate were to confirm Jackson. She would be the first Black woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“And looking at your record, it is clear you have the qualifications and the experience and the knowledge needed to serve on the Supreme Court,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said. “And as a woman, it makes me very proud of that.”
Several senators gave reference to Jackson’s race.
“And yes – the first Black woman – nominated to serve on our nation’s highest court,” said Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif. “They could never have imagined that the senators sitting before you would include the first women to represent California, Hawaii, and Tennessee; the first Jewish man to represent Georgia; the first Hispanic man to represent Texas; and the first Black man to represent New Jersey.”
Some Republicans appeared to welcome Jackson’s nomination, but several expressed concerns during the first day of hearings. Sen. Josh Hawley has been a leading critic of Jackson, claiming a “pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook.” During the hearing, he pointed to several cases where Jackson’s sentencing in child porn cases were much lower than the federal sentencing guidelines.
Hawley’s argument has gained traction among critics.
“The White House’s whataboutist response to Judge Jackson’s very real record in child pornography cases is dismissive, dangerous, and offensive,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said ahead of the hearing. “We need real answers.”
Biden reaffirmed his nominee in a statement as the hearings began.
“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a brilliant legal mind with the utmost character and integrity,” he said. “She deserves to be confirmed as the next Justice of the Supreme Court.”
The hearings are scheduled to go through Thursday.