As Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was introduced to America at her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, as a person of qualification and intellect, the nation received a quite different first dose of Senator Marsha Blackburn, R‑Tennessee.
It was Blackburn who went on and on about “culture wars” and wanted Judge Jackson to define a woman. Blackburn is a person who judges without evidence. Witness this tweet: “The radical left is teaching five-year-olds that they can choose their own sex. Meanwhile, they’ve put forward a nominee to the Supreme Court who cannot define the word ‘woman’.”
How did Tennessee, home to past Senate Majority Leaders, come to elect a Tea Party supporter to the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body?
A Supreme Court confirmation hearing played a role.
In 2018, Republicans deployed the “smearing” of nominee Brett Kavanaugh to their advantage in conservative states. It worked in Tennessee as Blackburn beat a blue-chip Democratic nominee, ex-Governor Phil Bredensen.
The political right displays a cynical mastery when it comes to creating issues. Its nationwide propaganda network ranges from rhinos (Sean Hannity) to tick birds (Dori Monson). It generates issues from whole cloth, witness Blackburn talking about “woke” culture, sex change, and manufactured evils of critical race theory.
Judge Kavanaugh was worked over the coals, legitimately because of a specific allegation of attempted rape rendered – hesitantly and reluctantly – by a credible person. The Jackson hearings before Senate Judiciary Committee have shown what a real-life smear looks lie.
On the Senate floor, in Tuesday’s debate, extremist Senator Tom Cotton, R‑Arkansas, hit a new low as he stated: “The last Judge (Robert) Jackson left the Supreme Court to go to Nuremburg and prosecute the chase against the Nazis. This Judge Jackson might have gone there to defend them.”
The Republicans are at it again, ginning up issues and targeting folk ranging from legal services lawyers to transgender teens. It is to three ends.
The Republican “base” is a minority of voters. The following must be mobilized, particularly in lower turnout midterm elections.
Conversely, make it difficult for such non-Republican constituencies as working women, people of color and young folks to vote.
Finally, officeholders who stray from the party and Trump line must be terrorized.
Of the three Republican senators who are voting for Judge Jackson’s confirmation, Marjorie Taylor Greene, R‑Georgia, tweeted on Tuesday: “Collins, Murkowski and Romney are pro-pedophile.” (Greene appears at rallies with Representative Matt Gaetz, R‑Florida, object of a federal sex trafficking investigation.)
I watched the Judiciary Committee hearing with a neighbor who is African American. She was upset at this latest boorish treatment of a Black woman.
So were many African American women across the United States, a mass outrage given eloquent voice by Joy Reid and guests on MSNBC.
But not enough. Political progressives are roused less often, which is not good for the nation. When it does happen – e.g. the Judiciary Committee’s treatment of Anita Hill, the growth of the #MeToo movement – positive social change results.
Our progressives don’t deploy a grievance machine that nurtures past upsets. Quite the contrary, the urge is to move on and move ahead. New matters command attention. A vast citizen movement fueled Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency. He seemed to say, “I’ll take it from here.”
The activism wasn’t there to advocate for the Patient Protection Act. The troops were not turned out to defend it in the 2010 election campaign.
Recalling 1994 and 2010, there is in 2020 the peril of a “three-peat.” The stakes are too high to sit this one out. Trump is far from gone. Not only is the Trump movement very much alive, but the Republican Party is subservient to it.
We are faced, with cases concerning abortion before the Supreme Court, the prospect that Americans will see a right taken away.
The Court has made atrocious decisions in the past, such as eighty years ago when it upheld the internment of Japanese Americans, but most of those decisions have been in long-ago eras. And never with a right, the right to reproductive freedom, consistently supported in polls by a majority of Americans.
Judge Jackson will be confirmed by the Senate, not with the eighty-plus votes earned by Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but with 53 or 54 votes.
She has the candle power to excel on the Supreme Court, but likely never will forget her treatment before the Judiciary Committee.
Nor should we. Nor has one Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski, R‑Alaska, who is voting to confirm based on Judge Jackson’s “range of experience from the courtroom that few can match given her background in litigation.”
But, of her decision, Murkowski said Friday:
It also rests on my rejection of the corrosive politicization of the review process for Supreme Court nominees, which, on both sides of the aisle, is growing worse and more detached from reality by the year.
The evolution – and proposed revocation – of rights is a must-follow, must-act matter for progressives. The selection, nomination and confirmation of federal judges is so vital to that progress. For instance, judicial nominations put forward by Senators Murray and Cantwell have already made the federal bench in Washington look a lot more like the state’s population.
I’m re-upping my membership in the American Constitution Society to keep track of the process. It didn’t cease to be interesting with a Democrat back in the White House. When encountering a lawmaker who wants my campaign dollars, ‘will ask whether Congress will take up the egregious ethical conflicts embodies by right wing power couple Clarence and Ginni Thomas.
Just one question that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is barred by discretion from answering: Having known the “Gentleman from Texas” since both were students at Harvard Law School, when did she first take an active dislike to Ted Cruz?