AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to begin hearings for President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, on Monday. But with a number of major domestic and foreign policy crises dominating the news, Jackson’s nomination has proceeded unusually quietly, meaning that many Americans still know precious little about Biden’s nominee.
Since Biden tapped Jackson as a replacement for Justice Stephen Breyer in February, Democrats have pulled out all the stops to portray Jackson in the most positive light possible, no doubt hopeful for a swift confirmation process that could turn the page on months of bad headlines for the Biden team. But even though Jackson’s potential confirmation would not alter the Court’s 6-3 conservative majority, her legal record and well-documented allegiance to left-wing causes have raised significant questions about her judgment, particularly as the liberal legal movement grows ever more authoritarian and divorced from basic legal principles outlined in the Constitution.
Since last June, Jackson has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a post to which she was also appointed by Biden. Prior to that, she was a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Vice-Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. A graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Jackson clerked for Justice Breyer—whom she is seeking to replace—and served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. If confirmed, Jackson would be the first former federal public defender to sit on the High Court.
Jackson’s previous legal rulings have indicated that, if confirmed, she would be a reliable rubber stamp for some of the progressives’ top legal ambitions. During her time as a judge, for instance, Jackson allowed a constitutionally dubious program that established race-based preferences for government contracts to remain in place. Moreover, as the Daily Wire reported, Jackson “has repeatedly embraced champions of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in lectures and speeches while nodding to the progressive idea with the use of terms such as ‘microaggression.’” Given that the Court is expected to hear a hot-button case relating to affirmative action and the role of race in college admissions at Harvard, her alma mater, next term, Jackson’s commitment to identity politics should sound the alarm for conservatives and constitutional originalists.
As a federal judge, Jackson halted Trump administration programs that deported illegal aliens, blocked Trump’s executive orders aimed at holding employees of the federal government accountable, and wrote a fiery opinion compelling former White House Counsel Don McGahn to comply with a subpoena related to the Democrat impeachment crusade against Trump in 2019, discarding sensitive questions of separation of powers. A progressive immigration group has also lauded Jackson for her omission of words like “illegal” and “alien” in her immigration decisions.
As several Republican Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been eager to note, Jackson is on record defending terrorists detained at Guantánamo Bay. Additionally, prior to her appointment as a federal judge, she signed onto an amicus brief authored by pro-abortion groups in support of a “buffer zone” near abortion clinics—targeting the First Amendment rights of pro-life Americans.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), a Member of the Judiciary Committee, also recently pointed out what he called an “alarming” pattern relating to “Judge Jackson’s treatment of sex offenders, especially those preying on children”—including her advocacy for “drastic change in how the law treats sex offenders by eliminating the existing mandatory minimum sentences for child porn.”
When it comes to her legal and judicial temperament, Jackson’s record is just as concerning. As Ed Whelan wrote for National Review, Jackson “is not highly regarded as a judge” and “has a striking record of reversals by the D.C. Circuit—including by progressive judges—in her high-profile rulings.” This analysis hits at the heart of Jackson’s fitness to serve on the High Court, and seriously calls into question whether or not she is actually one of the nine best jurists in the entire country.
As the Judiciary Committee begins its questioning of Judge Jackson this week, they should make sure not to let these crucial areas of concern fly under the radar. Though Democrats are eager to cloak Jackson’s striking record of left-wing radicalism and her questionable legal judgments behind less significant qualities like her race and gender (Biden himself has made clear on several occasions that these are the two factors that drove Jackson’s nomination), GOP Senators should do everything in their power to bring her legal record and philosophy to center stage.
Even if Jackson is easily confirmed—a scenario that at this point seems likely—the American people have the right to know the kinds of jurists the Biden administration is seeking to appoint. Though the ideological composition of the Court may not hang in the balance, the future of the rule of law, the American constitutional order, and some of our nation’s most venerable legal traditions are ultimately at stake. If Republicans do their job during next week’s hearings, Americans will witness the latest instance of this troubling pattern for themselves.