Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed as Supreme Court Justice, but narrowly

April 7, 2022 • 2:45 pm

This headline is just up in the NYT, reflecting Jackson’s approval by the Senate to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The good news is that a well qualified liberal has been appointed to a hopelessly benighted and conservative Court. Click to read: 

The bad news: the vote was 53-47. with only 3 Republican Senators breaking ranks to vote “yes” (Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah). Kudos to them.

Historically, if a President’s nominee was well qualified, both sides would largely vote “yes”.  There are only two reasons why so many Republicans would oppose Jackson. The first is because they are sworn to oppose anything Biden wants. You know the second, and I don’t want to believe it or to go there.

Well, at least we won one. The Republican cross-examination of Jackson, which I watched for several hours in Antarctica, was reprehensible.

33 thoughts on “Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed as Supreme Court Justice, but narrowly

  1. Should have been a completely joyous occasion. Whatever the motives behind the question, not answering “what is a woman?” literally showed how woke the Dems are, even at the highest level. First Black woman on the SCOTUS. Strange that she can’t even say what a woman is. Can she say what Black is?

    Yes, I’m really disappointed. I’m disappointed that so-called progressives and liberals have become so woke, driven mainly by blokes with at most bad eyeliner who think that if anyone criticizes their desire to pee with teenage girls, then that person deserves death. However heated the debate, essentially all death threats come from that side.

    Biden said that he wanted to appoint a Black woman to the SCOTUS. If he goes along with the supreme wokeness, how does he even know that he appointed a woman? (No, saying that she self-identifies as a woman won’t cut it, because she herself stated that she doesn’t know what a woman is.)

    1. MOST people couldn’t accurately define a woman in biological terms!

      I’m not sure what you’re on about here. Are you saying that you would have voted against Jackson?

      And give me a break with your “Biden might not know he appointed a woman.”

      I may be anti-woke, but I’m not as full of bile as you seem to be. Do you really want to stick by your stereotype of liberals and progressives as

      “mainly. . . blokes with at most bad eyeliner who think that if anyone criticizes their desire to pee with teenage girls, then that person deserves death. However heated the debate, essentially all death threats come from that side.”

      That is a grotesque exaggeration of what liberals are and you really should retract it. And I want to ask you again: would YOU have voted for Jacskon? If not, why not?

      1. I would have voted for her, certainly. I am criticizing only one point, but I think that it is an important one. Although the questioner’s motivations were clearly different than mine, or yours, the question was clearly sparked by the Lia Thomas and similar controversies which you have written about extensively here. The point being that if not even a SCOTUS Justice can define what a woman is, then self-ID will become the default in the style of Lia Thomas. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

        The quip about Biden was tongue-in-cheek. However, it does seem strange that he said that he would appoint a woman, appoints one, but that woman can’t answer the direct question of what a woman is.

        With reference to previous court rulings, “I know one when I see one” would have been a good answer. 🙂

        I’m sure that we are both anti-woke in approximately the same measure, though sometimes we might talk past each other. Sorry if my intent was not clear.

        The stereotype was NOT meant to refer to liberals and progressives. Far from it. Rather, it refers to the militant trans-rights activists who, although they are a minority (probably even a minority among trans people) have so come to dominate the discussion to such an extent that it has led to things like puberty blockers and troubled teens being pushed into transitioning by militant activists. I’m sure that you must be aware of such issues; if not, I’ll post some links.

        There can be no question that not only with respect to trans-rights activists (complete with death threats to J. K. Rowling), but also with respect to CRT, defund the police, and so on, traditional progressive parties like the Democrats are at least tacitly agreeing with policies which both you and I find absurd (as you’ve mentioned here many times). It seems that there are the Trump supporters and the woke and few at the sensible ground, in the tradition of the Democratic party, in-between, at least among politicians and university administrators.

        As for the death threats, they are real. Just ask J. K. Rowling. (The “bad eyeliner” line, by the way, comes from a transwoman who was criticizing overly woke transwomen.)

        Sorry if my intent wasn’t clear, or my language too sharp, but we agree on 99.9% of the issues.

        1. Off topic, but since the issue has come up here already, the questions “What is a woman?” and “Can a woman have a penis?” were addressed (and somewhat rewritten) by a self-proclaimed woman with a penis on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this morning. The interview makes for er… interesting listening, not least for the claim that gender critical feminists are in thrall to the patriarchy, or something… (There’s nothing like a biological male critiquing feminists’ beliefs, albeit rather politely.) The segment begins at about 17:25 minutes in: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00162y8

          1. Since the Supreme Court sometimes deals with cases involving gender issues, the question of how one defines a “woman” is relevant. As we now live in a country where a person can be one gender biologically and another legally, Jackson should have said how she would define a woman legally, whether or not that definition jibes with the way a biologist would define it.

            Gloria Steinem used to say “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” Good news! Men CAN get pregnant! So let’s have no more talk about “men controlling women’s bodies.” That’s transphobic.

            1. You miss the point entirely, and being snarky is a losing stance in an argument. These were just Republican gotcha questions to let the Tr**p base know they were assholes, just like their Overlord. And your last paragraph is a non-sequitur-extraordinaire. Congrats!

              1. The last paragraph is not a non sequitur but rather irony/satire. Maybe Doug should have added the appropriate smiley.

                I think that this demonstrates the whole problem. Progressive liberals are anti-woke. So are conservatives. But since conservatives are anti-woke, many people refuse to call out woke excess, apparently because they fear being confused with conservatives, or because they think that anything conservatives believe must be wrong.

                What we need are more traditional progressive liberals such as our host and Steven Pinker who call out nonsense from the left. (As Jerry has mentioned, there are reasons to call this out more than nonsense on the right.)

                There are other situations which appear similar at first. For example, many conservatives (all honest ones) are against pornography and prostitution, but so are some feminists (who otherwise have practically nothing in common with conservatives). There are also feminists who are against the abolition of pornography and prostitution. However, the abolitionist feminists don’t seem fazed, nor should they, that they agree with conservatives on this point (though their reasons are different).

                There has been much discussion about the unfairness of transwomen in women’s sports. Why was the first UK politician to state clearly that he agrees that transwomen shouldn’t compete against women Boris Johnson? Because the left, who traditionally have supported women’s rights, have been enslaved by the woke.

                Probably most people support neither Trump nor the woke, but sometimes it seems that those are the only two possibilities. One of the reasons is that if someone agrees with Trump on one point, even though the motivation is different, the woke characterize them as some right-wing kook. And if someone agrees with a sensible liberal position, the conservatives claim that that must demonstrate wokeness.

                The conservatives are opposed to T and are also opposed {whether or not they admit it) to LGB because they are against anything which goes beyond 1950s (and earlier) ideals of sexuality. The woke embrace the whole LGBTQWERTY+++ spectrum because they must oppose the conservatives on every point. The sensible position is somewhere in-between.

            2. I think she was very wise not to answer that question. She said she is not a biologist (which is true). She later explained if a relevant case would come before her she would listen to the arguments and come to a more informed decision relevant to the case.
              I think she was pretty clear, and pretty good.

        2. I’m proud to be woke. It’s become a derogatory term by the right to describe liberals. Most of your base don’t even know the meaning. I’d much rather be woke than lied to, believe conspiracy bullshit, and be dealt Qanon crazy from every right wing extremist news site. Being anti-woke is like being anti-antifa. The right thinks it’s cool to be anti-woke and only want to own the libs.

          1. I’m sorry but you don’t know what you’re talking about ‘Woke’ means someone who adheres to progressive far left doctrine to a ludicrous extent. It does not mean liberal, though it used to mean “attuned to social injustice.” We’ve discussed this many times here.

            As for your mass insult of the readership, about how they don’t know the meaning, that’s wrong. It is YOU who doesn’t know what the word means these days, and that shows you haven’t been reading much.

            And if you think the readers here are ultra-Trumpian right-wingers, believing in the Qanon stuff, you simply haven’t been reading here, which you imply that you’ve done in your preening screed.

            And what’s wrong with being anti antifa?

            Please go educate yourself.

  2. Yes, kudos to the three GOP senators. The days of well-qualified nominees receiving unanimous approval are sadly long gone.

  3. They voted against her because they’d have voted against absolutely any Democrat nominee, not (I suggest) because she is a black woman.

    After all, Merrick Garland is both white and male and they didn’t exactly seem keen on him either.

    1. I wonder, however, if Republicans, despite voting no, stayed and at least acknowledged and applauded the confirmation of “liberal” justices in recent times instead of turning their backs and walking out of the chamber, as they did (with one exception: Romney) in Brown Jackson’s case (https://edition.cnn.com/videos/politics/2022/04/08/mitt-romney-ketanji-brown-jackson-confirmation-raju-borger-vpx.cnn). Does anyone happen to know? For Kagan or Sotomayor, e.g.? Or for Breyer or Ginsburg? I find this terribly shameful.

  4. The “history” of qualified nominees receiving support from both sides is ancient history, and the GOP isn’t the party that undid it.

    Barrett was 52-48
    Kavanagh was 50-48
    Gorsuch was 54-45
    Alito was 58-42

    Sotomayor was 68-31
    Kagan was 63-37

    Roberts was the outlier with 22 Democratic votes. (Clearly, they knew something.)

    I’m disappointed by your “two reasons” – you are smarter than that, especially as to the unmentioned-but-mentioned second reason. (Were the Democrats who opposed Alito bigoted against Italians?)

    The correct reason is a simple C, none of the above: the GOP does not share her judicial philosophy.

    1. The problem with your assumption is using the word “qualified” when describing those first four justices. The only thing that “qualifies” any recent GOP SCOTUS pick is that they be groomed by the Federalist Society. That’s the only qualification they need, and any sane Senator would have voted against them. They are nothing but ultra-conservative, right-wing tools.

    2. I do NOT think the Republicans voted against her because she was black. As I said, “I don’t want to believe it.” Maybe a couple did, but don’t tell me that I’m smarter than what I said. That was bloody rude and I expect you to apologize for that snarky comment.

    3. “Roberts was the outlier” – yes, a certain Senator Biden was one of five Dems to vote against him at the Senate Judiciary Committee beforehand (the others were Ted Kennedy, Richard Durbin, Chuck Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein).

      1. Yeah, I think that the ‘Garland Affair’ was unprecedented in several ways.
        Never before was the Senate prevented from exercising it’t duty by being refused to even hearing a nominee.
        Since the beginning of the 20th Century there were 8 vacancies during an election year, and in all but two cases the candidates were confirmed before the elections One exception was Eisenhower’s nomination of Brennan in October 1956, but he was confirmed after the elections. And the other most glaring example is Garland, of course.
        I think McConnell really escalated the partisanship.
        And his ramming through of ACB was also unprecedented, and rubbing salt in the wound. There have been vacancies shorter before elections (27 days), but Lincoln only nominated after the elections.
        I fear it is McConnell who irreversibly (at least in the near future) soured the soup.

    4. Your “history” is but very recent history, indeed.
      Before Roberts:
      Stephen Breyer: 87-9
      RBG: 96-3
      Clarence Thomas 52-48
      David Souter: 90-9
      Anthony Kennedy: 97-0
      Robert Bork: (rejected 42-58)
      Antonin Scalia: 97-0
      William Rehnquist (as Chief Justice): 68-26
      Sandra Day O’Connor: 99-0
      John Paul Stevens: 98-0

      The last three to have been nominated by one party president and confirmed by an opposing majority Senate were: Thomas, Souter and Kennedy (note, in all 3 cases nominated by a Republican president and confirmed by a Democratic majority Senate). I take issue here that the Democrats are solely responsible for undoing the wide approval regardless of party lines.
      Bork and Thomas are kinda outliers there (less than 2/3rd’s), but outliers there have always been.
      538 has a nice graph there showing how much the vote has become partisan. It dived below 2/3rd’s in the early 2000’s and kept diving.
      Although there were some ups and downs since the 1800’s, the present situation appears unprecedented.
      https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/its-harder-than-ever-to-confirm-a-supreme-court-justice/

  5. The third possible reason is that it’s payback for the narrow confirmations of Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barret. This hyper-partisan confirmation process seems to have started, essentially, when McConnell refused to hold confirmation hearings for Garland.

  6. The Republican cross-examination of Jackson, which I watched for several hours in Antarctica, was reprehensible.

    They could not challenge KBJ’s credentials, qualifications, or experience, since they are impeccable.

    They could not challenge KBJ’s character or temperament, since they, too, are impeccable.

    So Republicans on the judiciary committee — particularly Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Tom Cotton — flyspecked her record and came up with a handful of kiddie porn cases, which (even though her sentencing in those cases was well within the mainstream) those senators repeatedly demagogued to play to the QAnon/Pizzagate lunacy about Democratic pedophilia rings.

    It was shameful.

    1. The three senators you mention have ambitions to run for president if Trump does not decide to do so. Attacking Jackson as they did raises their street cred with the GOP base. If Trump does not run in 2024, the leading candidates will make him seem like a flaming liberal.

    2. Ken, I’d like to hear your opinion of the Trump justices. Are they qualified? My feeling was that they were poor to marginal, but I’m no lawyer.

      1. Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett all had appropriate credentials — Ivy League legal educations (in the case of the first two; Notre Dame, in the case of Barrett), Supreme Court clerkships, time spent toiling in Republican legal circles (such as Ken Starr’s “Whitewater” investigation) and/or in silk-stocking law firms, and apprenticeships on the lower federal bench.

        After all, these nominees were each vetted and re-vetted for precisely such qualifications by the Federalist Society and other right-wing groups. (Conservatives insist upon such vetting of Supreme Court nominees nowadays — resulting in a narrow pool of potential nominees — as a condition for supporting Republican presidential candidates, since GOP activists feel burned by the general leftward drift of many prior Republican nominees over the past few decades — particularly in the case of Bush, Sr.’s nomination of David Souter.)

        My only basis for opposing the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh concerned his unfit character and temperament. As to Gorsuch and Barrett, it was based solely on the Republicans’ hypocritical, hyper-partisan timing of their nominations. Beyond that, I’m against opposing Supreme Court nominees on ideological grounds. President’s should be able to pick justices of their liking (assuming the nominees meet basic qualifications and have the appropriate character and temperament). That’s one of the consequences of elections in a democracy.

  7. I glumly expect that this will be the new normal, at least for the GOP. I predict that for future Democratic party SCOTUS nominees, all Senate votes will henceforth go along party lines.

    This is just an extension of Newt’s strategy way back when. The strategy McConnell explicitly stated as recently as Obama’s presidency: the GOP’s single and sole goal when there is a Democratic president in office is to make the president fail.

    1. As I said at the time of the fiasco regarding the non-confirmation of Obama nominee Merrick Garland, I think we’ve reached the stage at which a president will no longer be able to get a SCOTUS nominee confirmed so long as the other political party controls the US senate.

      Thanks, Yertle the Turtle Mitch McConnell.

    1. Yeah, I’ve got to give props to Mitt Romney (who voted against confirming KBJ when she was nominated to the DC Circuit in 2021) for showing some moxie on this vote.

  8. The USSC will be hearing several critical cases regarding women’s sex-based rights in the next few years. I’d say Marsha Blackburn’s question was extremely relevant, and KBJ’s answer was *craven*.
    Oklahoma is banning abortion from the moment of conception. Biological men are pretending to “compete” against women in sports and winning, with almost no one willing to publicly acknowledge the comically gross unfairness of it lest they and their families be harassed and threatened. School districts are pushing gender ideology on elementary students while covering up sex abuses. States are actively obscuring records to hide the fact that they are turning women’s prisons into rape kennels to reward male prisoners gaming the system by claiming a female gender identity, and punishing the female prisoners with human rights violations, with the added insult that speaking out gets them more time imprisoned!
    How can any of these issues be given the justice they deserve if the judge presiding over them cannot state what is obvious to every toddler on Earth – the very real difference between men and women?

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