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Supreme Court live: Republicans grill Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

Watch live as Senate Judiciary Committee begin hearing on Biden’s Supreme Court nominee

Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the first of her confirmation hearings. The first Black woman to be nominated to the court, she will if confirmed replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.

With the Democrats in control of the Senate and the court now heavily tilted in conservatives’ favour, Ms Brown Jackson – currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia – is expected to be confirmed barring some unforseen event.

However, some Republicans have lately begun attacking her for her past work as a public defender, focusing in particular on her work defending sexual offenders. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, yesterday questioned her aggressively about supposedly lenient sentences she handed down to certain child sexual offenders.

The White House condemned his line of questioning – which is based on largely debunked misrepresentations of the decisions in question – calling it an ‘embarrassing, QAnon-signalling smear’ in reference to the conspiracy theory that the world is run by a cabal of cannibalistic paedophiles.

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Jackson confirms she’ll recuse herself from Harvard case

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed to Sen Ted Cruz on Wednesday that she would recuse herself from a case determining whether Harvard discriminated against Asian-Americans in their admissions policies.

Mr Cruz questioned Ms Jackson about general themes that the case touched on, including which situations a plaintiff could sue a school for such a reason. He also asked if she would recuse herself from the Harvard case specifically, given her service on Harvard’s Board of Overseers.

“That is my plan,” she responded.

John Bowden23 March 2022 20:10

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Durbin gavels down Cruz as he goes over time

Sen Dick Durbin rebuked a second Republican member of the committee on Wednesday as the contentious confirmation hearings of Ketanji Brown Jackson continued.

GOP members of the committee have badgered Ms Jackson on a number of issues including her past rulings in cases involving defendants accused of possessing child pornography; after the hearing resumed Wednesday afternoon, Sen Ted Cruz caused Mr Durbin to bang his gavel repeatedly when his lengthy questioning ran over the 20-minute time allotment.

“You can bang it as loud as you want,” Mr Cruz exclaimed. Mr Durbin then turned questioning over to Sen Chris Coons, and quipped to Mr Cruz: “At some point, you have to follow the rules.”

John Bowden23 March 2022 19:32

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Ketanji Brown Jackson’s daughter wrote a letter recommending her to Barack Obama in 2016

In 2016, Ketanji Brown Jackson’s daughter 11-year-old daughter wrote to then-President Barack Obama and laid out a case for naming her mother to the nation’s highest court, as Mr Obama was determining who he would pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The letter paints a portrait of the justice’s daughter Leila as a sharp, politically-active youngster; she was in the Senate this week as Mr Obama’s former VP, Joe Biden, took her advice and her mother now faces historic confirmation hearings for an appointment to the nation’s highest court.

Read more from The Independent’s Nathan Place:

John Bowden23 March 2022 19:05

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White House declines to comment on Republican attacks

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had no comment to reporters on Air Force One on Wednesday when she was asked about criticism from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee directed at Ketanji Brown Jackson.

She was asked by journalists whether it was the view of the president that Republicans had crossed a line into “inappropriate” or even “racist” attacks on Ms Jackson’s career and background.

“I’m not going to get into specifics on that at all,” she said, dismissing the questions.

John Bowden23 March 2022 18:44

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Clarence Thomas absent from Supreme Court for third straight day following hospitalisation for ‘infection’

Justice Clarence Thomas was absent from the Court on Wednesday as he battles an infection. Few details have been released about his condition, other than that he has tested negative for Covid-1, and a statement describing his symptoms as “abating”.

The justice was set to be released from the hospital Tuesday evening, but the Court did not confirm on Wednesday if that had occurred.

Read more from The Independent’s Gustaf Kilander:

John Bowden23 March 2022 18:23

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Judge affirms support for gun rights precedent

Sen John Cornyn used part of his questioning on Wednesday to ask whether Judge Jackson felt that all of the Court’s established precedents should be treated equally.

The Texas Republican used one example, Heller V. District of Columbia, and asked whether it should enjoy the same kinds of protection from being revisited as did other cases like Roe V. Wade. The 2008 case resulted in Washington DC’s ban on handgun ownership being tossed out as unconstitutional.

“All precedents of the Supreme Court are entitled to respect on an equal basis,” Ms Jackson answered.

John Bowden23 March 2022 17:45

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Jackson refuses to comment on opinion of Kavanaugh hearings

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson declined to answer a question from Lindsey Graham on Wednesday after she was asked whether she approved of the contentious process that played out during the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Mr Graham and other Republicans have used this week’s hearings to air grievances against Democrats for the treatment of Mr Kavanaugh, whose confirmation was disrupted after several women came forward and claimed that the judge had sexually assaulted them.

“Senator, I don’t have any comment on what procedures took place in this body,” Ms Jackson told the panel.

John Bowden23 March 2022 17:25

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Donald Trump Jr attacks Jackson on Twitter

The former president’s eldest son weighed in on day 3 of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings, appearing to mock the judge for her refusal to answer questions outside of her expertise as a judge and legal professional.

In one instance, for example, Ms Jackson said that she would or could not give an accurate biological definition of a woman, given that she had no background in the subject.

John Bowden23 March 2022 17:09

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Senator reverses on interracial marriage question

Sen Mike Braun said on Wednesday that he misunderstood the question when he told CNN’s Manu Raju on Tuesday that he wanted the Supreme Court to revisit the ruling establishing interracial marriage as a federally-protected right.

Mr Braun said on Tuesday that he wanted Roe V Wade, the landmark abortion rights case, to be revisited. And while explaining that he believed that individual states should be able to set their own laws on abortion rights, he was asked if that standard should apply to other rights, like interracial marriage.

“When you want that diversity to shine within our federal system, there are going to be rules and proceedings. They’re going to be out of sync with maybe what other states would do. It’s a beauty of the system. And that’s where the differences among points of view in our 50 states ought to express themselves,” he said.

On Wednesday, he revisited his own position.

“I wasn’t paying close enough attention to it,” Mr Braun told Mr Raju. “Once I got into it, I didn’t want to litigate anything other than Roe vs Wade.”

John Bowden23 March 2022 16:35

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Lindsey Graham refuses to let Jackson respond as he badgers her over child sex abuse image sentencing

Sen Lindsey Graham refused to let Ketanji Brown Jackson answer his repeated questions about her history regarding sentencing of defendants in child pornography cases, prompting chairman Dick Durbin to order him to allow her to respond.

Mr Graham would go on to accuse the judge of “filibustering” her response to him, while she answered that she tried to always hand out sentences proportionate to the crime in question.

“She filibustered every question I had,” he said; in actuality, Mr Graham cut her off repeatedly to the point where one audience member was audibly heard muttering “shut up!” during one of his interjections.

John Bowden23 March 2022 16:26

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