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The right’s strange new offensive against Ketanji Brown Jackson

Ketanji Brown Jackson hasn't even been sworn in yet, but some on the right are already peddling some deeply odd ideas about her.


Before Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings began, Republican leaders assured the public that the nominee would be treated with respect as part of a serious review process. That promise was soon broken.

Americans saw GOP senators go after Jackson with “barely coded appeals to racism.” Republicans’ antics were disrespectful, and at times embarrassing. The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson went so far as to argue that the ways in which GOP senators approached this fight reflected “a Republican Party in decay.”

One Republican senator even launched an attack ad targeting Jackson with deceptive slander after she’d already been confirmed.

A month later, it appears the right isn’t quite done going after the jurist who’ll soon become the nation’s first Black woman to serve as a justice. HuffPost noted:

Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield suggested on Tuesday — without evidence or logic — that future Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson may be responsible for the leak of a draft ruling that would dismantle abortion rights.

“I find it suspect that the first leak coming out of the Supreme Court in history comes shortly after Judge Jackson is confirmed,” Stinchfield said, as flagged by Media Matters for America’s Jason Campbell. “I want to know if her law clerks, who I am sure have already been hired, possibly even working at the high court already before her swearing in, have access to these draft decisions.”

He added that Jackson is “capable of undermining the court,” and is therefore his “first suspect.”

Oh my.

To the extent that reality still has any meaning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization late last year. In the weeks that followed, Justice Samuel Alito wrote a draft ruling, which was circulated to other justices on Feb. 10. (We know this for certain because the leaked document is dated.)

President Joe Biden didn’t even nominate Jackson until Feb. 25. She wasn’t confirmed until April 7. She won’t be sworn in until late June or early July.

The idea that Jackson would leak a draft is outlandish given her sterling record of professionalism, but in this instance, the idea that she could leak a draft is even more ridiculous.

But as it turns out, this is not the only odd idea about Jackson circulating on the right. Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee spoke to the Daily Caller, a conservative outlet, and shared some similarly odd concerns about the next justice to join the high court.

“In April he (Biden) did sign those commission papers appointing her to the court. And I think it’s going to be interesting to see if the left starts pushing Justice Roberts to seat Judge Jackson because they are trying to push the balance of the court. They’re trying to pack the court. They’re trying to expand the court,” Blackburn said.

I’ll confess, if the quote is accurate, I don’t fully understand what the GOP senator — a member of the Judiciary Committee — was even trying to say. Does Blackburn think “the left” will temporarily expand the Supreme Court to 10 seats ahead of Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement next month? How would that even work?

And why would anyone bother? In this bizarre hypothetical, which has no basis in law, Jackson wouldn’t be able to rule on cases she hasn’t heard, and it wouldn’t make much of an ideological difference since there’d still be a six-member conservative majority.

The Daily Caller’s report added that Blackburn warned that Democrats might pursue such a scheme as part of “an effort to stop Roe v. Wade from being overturned.”

But that still doesn’t make sense, for all the aforementioned reasons.

“There is a framework in place that should keep that from happening,” Blackburn added. “But what we have to be aware of is that the Democrats are taking unprecedented actions.”

I honestly can’t think of any unprecedented actions Democrats have taken when it comes to the federal judiciary, but if the Senate Republican really wants to have this conversation, I can think of unprecedented actions the GOP conference has taken.