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Judge Jackson says she will decide cases from a 'neutral posture' if confirmed to Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Posted at 9:45 AM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 16:04:52-04

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson expressed gratitude in her opening remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Judge Jackson thanked the committee for holding the confirmation hearings, President Joe Biden for the nomination, her parents, her daughters and God.

“I must also pause to reaffirm my thanks to God," she said. "For it is faith that sustains me at this moment."

In her opening statements, Judge Jackson provided insight into her life. She said her father, who was studying to be a lawyer when she was a child, first introduced her to law.

“My very earliest memories are of watching my father study," Judge Jackson said. "He had his stack of law books on the kitchen table while I sat across from him with my stack of coloring books."

The historical significance of the nomination is not lost on Judge Jackson. She is the first Black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Judge Jackson said her parents taught her anything is possible in the U.S.

“Unlike the many barriers that they had had to face growing up, my path was clearer, such that if I worked hard and believed in myself, in America I could do anything or be anything I wanted to be,” she said.

Jackson also addressed her view of the law. She said she decides cases from a "neutral posture."

“I evaluate the facts, and I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor, consistent with my judicial oath,” she said.

Judge Jackson was last to speak during Monday's hearings.

The day started with opening statements from committee members, including chairman Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Lawmakers were in agreement that they welcomed Jackson's diverse background on the high court.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was in favor of having the court "look more like America," and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said that Jackson's nomination marked "a new page in the history of America — a good page."

Republican senators also spent much of their opening statements pledging a challenging but fair confirmation process, blaming Democrats for the controversy surrounding the 2018 confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the sexual assault accusations that came with it.

Senators will question Jackson on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hearings will conclude on Thursday after a final day of hearings, at which Jackson will not be present.

Though Democrats have just a razor-thin margin in the Senate thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreak vote, only 50 votes are needed to confirm Jackson to the high court. However, if no Republicans choose to vote for Jackson, every Democrat will need to support her nomination, and so far, moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have yet to pledge their support for Jackson.

In questioning later this week, lawmakers are expected to address Jackson's time defending Guantanamo Bay detainees and her past sentences for some sex offenders, which some conservatives say were too lenient.

Democrats will also likely ask about Jackson's views on abortion. While she hasn't issued many rulings on the issue, Democrats assume she supports abortion rights.

Jackson's potential appointment to the Supreme Court likely won't influence its ideological makeup. In replacing Breyer, Jackson would join the court's liberal contingent, which is currently outnumbered 3-6 by conservative-leaning justices.