This week, Monday through Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings for President Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson. If you’re going to tune in and watch some of it, I would suggest that Tuesday and Wednesday are the key days, because Tuesday and Wednesday is when you’ll be seeing senators question her directly. You can expect Democrats to ask her friendly questions designed to bring out good answers from her, and you can expect most of the Republicans to ask her challenging questions.
In particular, you can expect to hear Republican senators press her on allegations that she is “soft on crime.” For part of her career she was a public defender, which means that it was sometimes her job to try to get nefarious criminals acquitted, and she was also on a sentencing commission where some of her recommendations will be subject to questioning. One Republican senator in particular, Josh Hawley, has been alleging that she has been easy on sex offenders. (Reminder: When the Capitol was being attacked on January 6, 2021, Josh Hawley was the one who made the solidarity fist with the attackers. He is not merely a conservative Republican; he is a full-fledged member of the Trump loyalist cult.)
In order for Judge Jackson to be confirmed for the Supreme Court, she will need at least 50 votes from elected senators. If she gets only 50 votes (that is, if all 50 Democrats and no Republicans vote for her), Vice President Harris will cast the tie-breaking vote. It’s uncertain whether she’ll have any Republican votes, but she did get a few when Biden appointed her to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals last year. The moderate Democrats, that is, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, will probably vote to confirm her, but their votes aren’t automatic, as we have seen.
Anyway, it’s worth tuning in for parts of the hearings Tuesday and Wednesday, March 22 and 23, to get the flavor of this kind of hearing and to see what a few of the characters on Capitol Hill look and sound like. And if you do watch, feel free to post your observations on the OpenLab discussion board (click here for that).