With the Democrats set to make history by appointing the first black woman judge to the Supreme Court, history-making Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be going before the Senate Judiciary Committee a series of hearings towards her confirmation, starting today.
Committee hearings are set to begin today, for the 51-year-old Jackson, who has been a federal judge for the past nine years. She is expected to present an opening statement late in the day, then answer questions from the committee’s 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans over the next two days.
This series of hearings will give most Americans, as well as the Senate, their most extensive look yet at the Harvard-trained lawyer with a resume that includes two years as a federal public defender. Jackson has also served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency created by Congress to reduce disparity in federal prison sentences.
That makes her the first nominee with significant criminal defense experience since Thurgood Marshall, the first Black American to serve on the nation’s highest court.
The American Bar Association, which evaluates judicial nominees, on Friday gave Jackson it’s highest rating, unanimously “well qualified.”
This being said, Republicans have hinted that they could use Jackson’s nomination to try to brand Democrats as soft on crime, an emerging theme in GOP midterm election campaigns. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., highlighted one potential line of attack. “I’ve noticed an alarming pattern when it comes to Judge Jackson’s treatment of sex offenders, especially those preying on children,” Hawley wrote on Twitter last week in a thread that was echoed by the Republican National Committee. Hawley did not raise the issue when he questioned Jackson last year before voting against her appeals court confirmation.
Last year, Jackson won Senate confirmation by a 53-44 vote, with three Republicans supporting her. It’s not clear how many Republicans might vote for her this time.