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US Senate to consider first Black woman for Supreme Court
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US Senate to consider first Black woman for Supreme Court

 

Senators were warned on Monday that history would be their judge as they launched marathon confirmation hearings to consider the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the first Black woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

President Joe Biden’s pick to join the nation’s highest court was formally introduced at the start of televised hearings which were set to be followed by two days of questioning and a day of testimony from outside witnesses.

“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a brilliant legal mind with the utmost character and integrity,” Biden had tweeted ahead of the hearing.

 

“She deserves to be confirmed as the next Justice of the Supreme Court,” the tweet added.

Jackson, a 51-year-old former federal public defender with almost a decade of experience on lower courts, served as a law clerk to the retiring liberal justice, Stephen Breyer, she was nominated to replace.

Democratic leaders planned a final Senate vote by early April, with focus on the court sharpened by the weekend hospitalisation of 73-year-old conservative Clarence Thomas, its second Black justice in history, with “flu-like symptoms.”

Thomas is expected to be released from the hospital in the next day or two.

Jackson is the first Black woman tapped for a seat on the court and would also be the first nominee of a Democratic president to be confirmed to the Supreme Court since Elena Kagan in 2010.

“I ask the members of this committee as we begin this landmark confirmation process, to consider how history will judge each senator, as we face our constitutional responsibility to advise and consent,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Dick Durbin, said in his opening address.

The Senate Judiciary Committee would meet on Monday through Thursday to consider Jackson’s nomination, which was being conducted by a 50-50 chamber controlled by Democrats, meaning there was no room for missteps.

No red flags had been raised about Jackson’s record that would damage her prospects, and Republicans have pledged to avoid the kind of “character assassination” they argue Democrats staged before the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

But conservatives had been signalling that they intend to go after Jackson’s record as a public defender, her work defending Guantanamo Bay detainees and her tenure on the US Sentencing Commission, which worked to “reduce sentencing disparities.”

They would also raise rulings they said were too lenient in a bid to frame Biden via his nominee as soft on crime ahead of November’s midterm elections.

High-profile confirmation hearings always presented an opportunity for grandstanding by presidential hopefuls so observers were expecting headline-grabbing moments from the likes of Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton.

Monday’s hearing began with the 22 members of the Judiciary Committee speaking for about 10 minutes each on Jackson’s nomination.

 

32080cookie-checkUS Senate to consider first Black woman for Supreme Court

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