Supreme Court nominee Jackson says she would recuse herself from Harvard affirmative action case – The Washington Post


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Jackson’s statement came as she testified for nearly 10 hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee, with several Republicans sharply criticizing her as too lenient in her sentencing as a federal trial judge.Jackson countered that it was unfair to solely focus on a subset of cases and emphasized that she had handed down tough sentences. Later, as Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the only Black senator on the panel, came to her defense and praised her, Jackson became visibly emotional.“You have earned this spot. You are worthy. You are a great American,” Booker told Jackson, who if confirmed would be the first Black woman on the court in its 233-year history.Proceedings on Thursday, the final day of hearings, will feature outside witnesses.Here’s what to knowSen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) pressed Jackson on whether she had been too lenient with sentencing in child pornography cases but repeatedly interrupted her before she could give an answer. Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) eventually intervened.Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) asked Jackson to talk about her brother, a former police officer in Baltimore, after Republicans sought to portray Jackson as soft on crime.Durbin rebuffed a request from all but one Republican senator on the committee for all presentencing reports from the child pornography cases Jackson handled as a judge.Jackson, 51, has been nominated by Biden to replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who is retiring. Breyer, 83, the high court’s oldest justice, has been a reliable liberal vote.KETANJI BROWN JACKSON'S CONFIRMATION PROCESSJackson caps two days of testimony; Durbin criticizes some Republicans for ‘offensive treatment’ of nomineeReturn to menuJackson answered questions and defended her record for approximately 23 hours over two days (including breaks) before a committee that included supporters of her historic nomination and those who questioned her fitness for the Supreme Court.Durbin closed the hearing by praising the judge for enduring “offensive treatment” from Republican lawmakers invested in portraying Jackson in a way that is inconsistent with truth.“Your patience, dignity and grace — and in the face of what was frankly some offensive treatment — is a real testament to your judicial temperament,” he said in his closing statement.The committee vote for Jackson likely will be on Monday, April 4. Durbin announced that her nomination will be considered at a markup on March 28, but rules allow for any committee business to be “held over” for one week. Durbin has said his goal is for the full Senate to confirm Jackson before the April 8 Senate break.Updates continue below advertisementBooker says Jackson is a ‘great American’ who is much more than her race and genderReturn to menuSen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) rebutted the attacks against Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing on March 23. (The Washington Post)Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) passionately praised Jackson for her professional accomplishments and personal character after both had been brought into question for days by Republican lawmakers.Booker, New Jersey’s first Black U.S. senator, said being a Black woman in America means that Jackson regularly faced obstacles in her life that none of the lawmakers criticizing her ever had to overcome.“You are a person that is so much more than your race and gender,” he told the judge as she dabbed her eyes with tissues. “You’re a Christian, you’re a mom.”“You have earned this spot,” Booker added. “You are worthy. You are a great American.”Booker’s encouraging speech stood in stark contrast to the attacks that were frequently lobbed at Jackson from conservatives on the committee who argued that Jackson had put children’s safety at risk by deciding against issuing the harshest possible sentences to child sexual offenders.“This is a new low. What’s especially surprising about this is it didn’t happen last year. … You were passed with bipartisan support. … Did they not do their homework?”Republicans have sought to portray Jackson as a radical leftist supported by dark-money groups. But Booker pushed back on the characterization, calling it false.“You did not get there because of some left-wing agenda,” he said. “You didn’t get here because of some dark-money groups.”“You got here how every Black woman in America who’s gotten anywhere,” Booker added.Supporters of Jackson have argued that racism and sexism in the legal world have required her to work much harder to achieve her goals in a profession in which Black women are underrepresented.Updates continue below advertisement6: 04 p.m.Seung Min Kim: Booker’s impassioned speech praising Jackson and her history-making nomination — meant to uplift what had become a tense and at times ugly atmosphere in Hart 216 — definitely made members of the audience emotional. Lots of sniffles were heard around the room — which some later confirmed were tears. Jackson herself was brought to tears and used a tissue to wipe at her eyes as Booker spoke. Committee Democrats later tweeted: “There was barely a dry eye in the Senate Judiciary Committee just now. That’s what happens when you have a nominee who inspires this nation — just like @SenBooker inspires us every day.”Seung Min Kim, White House reporterDurbin rebuffs request from 10 GOP senators for presentencing reports from cases Jackson handled as judgeReturn to menuLate Wednesday afternoon, all but one Republican senator on the committee put forward a request to Durbin for all presentencing reports from the child pornography cases Jackson handled as a judge.Those documents are typically sealed and contain highly sensitive personal information, and Durbin said he would not get involved in releasing such documents to senators.“I would suggest that the information contained in these reports is dangerous, dangerous to the victims and to the innocent people who are mentioned in these reports, and unnecessary at this point,” Durbin said. “It’s never been requested by this committee, and it’s merely a fishing expedition in dangerous territory, classified settings, redacted versions, of the reports.”The one GOP senator who did not sign was Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). A spokesman for the senator said while the documents were an “important process issue,” Sasse would continue to focus on judicial philosophy instead.Updates continue below advertisementThe elite D.C. prep school at the center of Jackson’s confirmation hearingReturn to menuRepublican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have zeroed in on Jackson’s service on the board of a D.C. private school during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing.Sen. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) complained that the school tells children they “can choose their own gender and teaches them about so-called White privilege.” Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) said the school, which also educates Jackson’s daughter and is known for its focus on social justice and diversity, “is filled and overflowing with critical race theory.”In the hearings and in conservative media, Georgetown Day School — which is in a wealthy area of overwhelmingly Democratic D.C. — has proved a useful foil for social conservatives who think American schools are teaching students inappropriate materials about sex, gender, White privilege and critical race theory, which has become a catchall label for lessons on race and history.Founded in 1945, Georgetown Day was the first racially integrated school in the nation’s capital. It is a sought-after institution where students call teachers by their first names and study a “progressive curriculum.” Annual tuition is more than $40,000.Updates continue below advertisementSasse doesn’t name names, but calls out performative behavior after Graham, Cruz questioningReturn to menuSen. Ben Sasse didn’t name names, but shortly after his fellow Republicans Graham and Ted Cruz (Tex.) repeatedly interrupted Jackson and tangled with Durbin, the Nebraska Republican called out performative behavior.“I think we should recognize that the jackassery we often see around here is partly because of people mugging for short-term camera opportunities,” Sasse told Jackson during his turn questioning the judge.Sasse has been critical in the past of Republicans and Democrats, calling out some by name. Last year, Sasse said Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) aren’t “serious adults.”Updates continue below advertisementJackson says she regrets Republicans have focused on ‘small subset’ of her sentences in child pornography casesReturn to menuAs Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) tried to pressure Jackson for the second day in a row on her approach to sentencing, accusing her of being too lenient in sex offense cases involving minors, Jackson said she regretted how much time in her hearings had been spent discussing the issue.“What I regret is that in a hearing about my qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court, we have spent a lot of time focusing on this small subset of my sentences,” Jackson said.Jackson has repeatedly answered questions from Republican senators about her sentencing decisions on child pornography cases. More often than not, the questions are the same, and she gives the same answers. Conservative senators have hinged on the issue to portray Jackson as not tough enough on crime.Hawley asked Jackson if she regretted handing out those sentences, and she refused to answer, arguing that “no one case” can stand for her “entire record on how I deal with criminal cases, or did when I was a district judge.”“The judge is not just evaluating what the government says in these cases,” Jackson explained. “In every criminal case, a judge has to take into account all sorts of factors.”“I’m a mother, who has daughters, who took these cases home with me at night because they are so graphic,” Jackson added. “So I am fully aware of the seriousness of this offense and also my obligation to take into account all of the various aspects.”Updates continue below advertisement3: 44 p.m.Ann Marimow: Jackson’s disclosure that she would recuse herself from the Supreme Court’s affirmative action case because of her Harvard ties is perhaps not surprising because of the way she has handled questions of recusal as a trial court judge. Jackson, whose term on Harvard’s board expires in May, went out of her way as a District Court judge to disqualify herself from handling several cases, even when ethics experts said it was not necessary, and cited her concern that her impartiality might be questioned.Ann Marimow, Legal affairs reporterSen. Cruz clashes with Sen. Durbin after continually interrupting JacksonReturn to menuSen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) allotted questioning time Wednesday devolved into a chaotic shouting match as he accused Jackson of not answering his questions, and then continually interrupted her whenever she started to respond.Like many other GOP senators, Cruz tried to suggest that Jackson was lenient on child pornography offenders, a line of attack that fact-checkers and Democrats have debunked and criticized. Jackson has repeatedly said that as a judge, she applied discretion to each case based on its circumstances and that her overall record showed that her sentencing decisions were consistent with what the law recommended.As had happened when Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) similarly kept cutting into Jackson’s answers earlier Wednesday, committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) intervened at some point, telling Cruz he was inappropriately interrupting and had reached his time limit.Cruz snapped back at Durbin.“Look, I appreciate the chairman trying to filibuster,” Cruz said. “And if you don’t like your witness’s answers, you’re welcome to provide your own. She is declining to answer the question and, Chairman Durbin, if you want to join her on this on the bench, you can.”Durbin said it was Cruz who wouldn’t allow Jackson to answer any questions. He banged his gavel and called on the next questioner, Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), to begin his time.“You can bang it as loud as you can,” Cruz said dismissively, as he continued to shout demands, going well over his 20-minute time limit.White House says Biden impressed with how Jackson ‘dismantled bad faith conspiracy theories’ about her recordReturn to menuBiden, who has watched some of the confirmation hearings, is impressed with how Jackson has “dismantled bad faith conspiracy theories” about her record, the White House said Wednesday.Aboard Air Force One, deputy White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden is proud of Jackson for displaying intellect, grace and character during the hours of testimony.“The president was also impressed with how she dismantled bad faith conspiracy theories that have been fact-checked by major media outlets and experts, like some of you all here,” Jean-Pierre said. “And moderates in both parties are now dismissing them for the fringe smears that they are.”Through two days of testimony, Jackson has forcefully defended her approach to sentencing amid allegations from some Republicans that she has been too lenient in sex offense cases involving minors.The White House said it is not focused on winning the support of Republican lawmakers who have been critical of Jackson’s record like Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.).“We’re focused on the full Senate,” Jean-Pierre said, adding, “You’ve heard Republicans react well to her qualifications and her neutral methodology … I want to be really clear: Our strategy doesn’t depend on Josh Hawley or any of the other senators who attacked her.”Biden is traveling to Belgium and Poland this week to help unify U.S. allies in their response to Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.Matt Viser contributed to this report.Jackson says she plans to recuse herself from Harvard affirmative action case if confirmedReturn to menuJudge Ketanji Brown Jackson on March 23 said, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, she would recuse herself from a Harvard University’s admissions policy case. (The Washington Post)It was the first time Jackson had publicly stated what she planned to do in the case, which some GOP senators had highlighted as a potential conflict of interest after her nomination.“If you’re confirmed, do you intend to recuse from this lawsuit?” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) asked Jackson Wednesday afternoon.“That is my plan, senator,” Jackson replied.The Supreme Court will hear the affirmative action challenges to policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina in the term that begins in October.Polling finds more support Jackson’s nomination than oppose itReturn to menuMore individuals support Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination than oppose it, according to a Pew Research Center survey.A recently released in-depth survey found that 44 percent of adults said the Senate should confirm Jackson. About a fifth — 18 percent — said the judge should not be confirmed. And nearly 4 in 10 — 38 percent — said they are not sure.The survey also asked respondents how important it would be to have a Black woman on the Supreme Court. A plurality — 43 percent — surveyed said it is extremely or very important historically to have a Black woman join the court. One in 5 surveyed said it would not be historically important at all to have a Black woman confirmed to the court.At 72 percent, the Black adults surveyed were significantly more likely to say it would be extremely or very important historically to have a Black woman on the Supreme Court than the number of White adults who said the same — 37 percent.Women also were more likely than men to say that the confirmation of a Black woman would be historically important. About half of women — 48 percent — say this change would be extremely or very important. Just 38 percent of the men surveyed said they felt the same.1: 58 p.m.Robert Barnes: The real-life Supreme Court intruded into the Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings when the Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it was overturning a decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to impose legislative redistricting maps drawn by the state’s Democratic governor. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) used it as an example of the court’s “shadow docket,” in which the court rules on important decisions brought to it on an emergency basis. Klobuchar read from the dissent by Democratic-appointed Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan but did not ask Jackson to comment.Robert Barnes, Reporter covering the U.S. Supreme CourtJackson, on Supreme Court shadow docket, emphasizes importance of hearing parties’ argumentsReturn to menuSen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked Jackson for her thoughts on shadow dockets, hours after the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning used the shadow docket to throw out a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision on redistricting maps.“Because this decision just came out, I don’t expect you to have immediately reviewed it,” Klobuchar told Jackson. “But I just want to make this point that in her dissent, Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor, joined by Justice [Elena] Kagan, called the court’s move unprecedented.”A shadow docket is when the court issues an emergency order or summary decision without oral argument.In her dissent, Sotomayor noted that the court, in this emergency motion, is overturning the state Supreme Court’s decision in a way that is generally reserved for violations of settled law.Klobuchar said that the court’s increasing practice of using a shadow docket to decide cases that have “grave consequences for our democracy” — including the right to vote — “is incredibly troubling.”Jackson said she needed to first talk to the justices to better understand their use of the shadow docket, but drawing from her experience as a court clerk, she said she knows there is a “need to balance getting a full briefing” during emergency circumstances.Jackson said that the court does recognize the value of allowing “lower courts to hear issues” and that “at least in some of the recent cases, the justices have had oral argument related to some emergency matters.”“But from my perspective as a judge in the work that I’ve been doing, I know that it’s important to hear from the parties,” Jackson said.12: 45 p.m.Mike DeBonis: Graham’s tense exchange with Jackson over her sentencing practices in child pornography cases came after Graham’s time had expired. But Jackson insisted on responding to an earlier point and thus prompted another eight minutes of discussion on the topic that allowed Graham to hammer his attacks. “You can be doing this for 15 minutes, and all of a sudden you are looking at 30, 40, 50 years in prison,” Jackson said, explaining her thinking in such cases. “Good, good. Absolutely good,” Graham thundered. “So you don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think that’s a horrible thing.” Typically nominees are advised to keep their responses short and to the point and to save their rebuttal for exchanges with friendly senators. Jackson has been careful through the hearing to avoid stepping into GOP traps, but this was rare instance where she created one.Mike DeBonis, Congressional reporter covering the House of Representatives12: 29 p.m.Seung Min Kim: The audience in the hearing room — pandemic-packed with Jackson’s supporters, family and passersby wanting to witness history — has been largely quiet during the hours of grilling that she has endured this week, even in the more tense moments. Not so when Graham questioned her Wednesday. As he repeatedly interrupted Jackson, some audience members were murmuring sounds of disapproval. At least one woman muttered “shut up” as Graham again interjected. And later, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) praised Jackson for her “stamina,” many of the women in the audience knowingly chuckled.Seung Min Kim, White House reporter10: 42 a.m.Robert Barnes: In questioning Jackson about an amicus brief she wrote supporting a Massachusetts buffer zone law around health facilities, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) indicated the Supreme Court ultimately found the law unconstitutional. But the court’s 2014 ruling in McCullen v. Coakley was about a replacement law the state passed in 2007, because it thought the original law not strict enough.Robert Barnes, Reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court10: 19 a.m.Ann Marimow: Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) is asking Jackson about an amicus brief she wrote as a lawyer in private practice on behalf of women’s groups defending a Massachusetts law that kept abortion protesters away from the entrance to clinics. The law was based on a Colorado buffer zone measure that has been upheld by the Supreme Court. The Massachusetts law was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, and the Supreme Court denied review.Ann Marimow, Legal affairs reporter9: 46 a.m.Seung Min Kim: What caught my attention this morning from Sen. Jon Ossoff’s (D-Ga.) line of questioning was that it appears to be the first time a senator has asked Jackson directly about her rulings on executive power involving the Trump administration. As a trial court judge in Washington, Jackson had a chance to weigh in on a dispute between the former president and House Democrats as lawmakers sought testimony from Donald McGahn, the former White House counsel. She sided with Congress in a 2019 decision that included one of her most notable lines in a decision: “Presidents are not kings.”Seung Min Kim, White House reporter
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