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Impotent GOP attacks on Jackson are proving how 'supreme' she is

Her experience and accolades are making it hard for Republicans to find a line of attack that sticks. Their questions prove it.


On the second day of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Republicans made clear with their ineffective questions that they have no salient arguments to justify keeping her off the court.

Jackson is about as unimpeachable a candidate as one could hope for. As a Washington Post graphic laid out so clearly, if confirmed, she’d have more expansive experience working across the judicial field than anyone else sitting on the Supreme Court. She’s been confirmed by the Senate three times previously. She’s been endorsed by organizations as varied as the Fraternal Order of Police and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In many ways, she embodies the instruction many Black parents give their kids to be twice as good as their competition if they hope to receive the accolades they deserve.

So, given all this, how are Republicans attacking her? Clumsily.

Photo Illustration: Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson
Justine Goode / Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was especially haphazard. At first, he tried to gin up Republican angst over Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s contentious 2020 confirmation hearings and unleashed a bizarre string of questions about Jackson’s religion. 

“What faith are you, by the way?” he asked at one point.

He later went on a rant about his belief that former Republican nominees were mistreated during their confirmation hearings. As my colleague Steve Benen wrote for the MaddowBlog, such rants have become a trend for Republicans during these hearings.

In their lines of questioning, both Graham and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, alleged Jackson called former President George W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “war criminals” while serving as a federal public defender for a Guantanamo Bay detainee. 

Reader, I have news for you: That wasn't true. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had to correct the record after the senators returned from a break. 

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, used up much of his time trying to connect Jackson to critical race theory, the misnomer conservatives use to generalize and attack teachings about racial inequality. Cruz railed against children’s books that teach anti-racism, and Jackson — channeling all of us — repeatedly told him they were unrelated to her work as a judge.

Republicans, including Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., also tried to push their unfounded allegation that Jackson issued rulings that were overly deferential to sex offenders (last week, I wrote on how such allegations are reminiscent of the QAnon conspiracy theory). It's a claim so false it was denounced in the conservative National Review.

"As a mother and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth," Jackson said of the Republican claims.

Responding to Cruz later in the afternoon, Jackson said her job was to "calculate the guidelines but also look at various aspects of this offense and impose a sentence that is 'sufficient but not greater than necessary.'"

Republicans are throwing haymakers in these hearings, desperately hoping one connects and knocks Jackson off balance. So far, their impotent attacks are doing nothing but affirming her strength as a nominee.