March 24, 2022 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ketanji Brown Jackson showed class. The GOP showed their ass

Apparently, CRT means “Black” now.

Screenshot 2022-03-24 11.23.52 AM

Share this article

This week Ketanji Brown Jackson is sitting for her confirmation hearings to become the first Black woman Supreme Court justice. Judge Jackson is supremely qualified and one of the most popular judicial nominees of the last 30 years. Of course none of that matters to Republican senators who are using the confirmation hearings to trot out the greatest hits of dogwhistle (or sometimes outright) racism and complain about the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh. 

Though Kavanaugh was confirmed to the bench they’re really really upset that Democrats had the audacity to … vet him, I guess? It’s hard to take any of their racist nonsense seriously, but I’m going to try to break down some of their attacks for you if only because it should cement just how fantastic Ketanji Brown Jackson really is as a judicial nominee to the Supreme Court.


This line of questioning goes past the usual conservative smear of Democrats being “soft on crime” and attempts to associate Judge Brown with QAnon conspiracy theories about pedophilia and systemic issues of covering up for sexual abusers. 


In the least surprising move ever, Republicans are using the hearings to push their anti-critical race theory nonsense. I’d like to give them points for seeming to realize CRT has to do with the legal system but they’re just being so obviously racist they don’t get any points. 

They seem to be turning Judge Jackson herself into a CRT boogeyman just because she exists as a Black woman in the legal profession. 

The GOP twitter account posted a gif that crossed out the initials KBJ and wrote CRT. I mean what does that even mean?



While there’s nothing wrong with critical race theory in legal work, if it were up to me it would be used a lot more often, there is no evidence Judge Jackson has any particular affiliation with that legal scholarship. 

In the hearings she said of CRT, “It doesn’t come up in my work as a judge,” she said. “It’s never something that I studied or relied on, and it wouldn’t be something I would rely on if I was on the Supreme Court.” 

That answer shows Judge Brown is not an adherent of critical race theory so I have to imagine Republicans just see a Black woman and immediately associate her with CRT. 

I guess CRT just means Black now?

One of the most bizarre attacks on Judge Jackson is that she sympathizes with sexual abusers because she doesn’t always give the longest sentence to sex offenders. Hawley wrote Twitter screeds on the subject and multiple Republicans seem obsessed with discussing child porn in the hearings. 

It’s worth keeping in mind that Judge Jackson worked as a public defender and served as vice chair of the US Sentencing Commission so it was literally her job to think critically about the way criminals are sentenced. (Really that should be the job of all judges charged with sentencing criminals.) 

Additionally, when looked at in context, the cherry-picked cases of Judge Jackson applying a lighter sentence are exceptions rather than showing a pattern of letting sex offenders of easily. 


CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE


In terms of sentencing reform, Judge Jackson’s views appear to be mainstream. In a 2010 survey, 71 percent of District judges polled said that the mandatory minimum sentence for the receipt (not production) of child pornography images was too high.

Hawley’s Twitter screed impugned and misrepresented the work of the US Sentencing Commission in his attempt to delegitimize Judge Jackson. He claimed that while serving on the sentencing commission “Judge Jackson advocated for drastic change in how the law treats sex offenders by eliminating the existing mandatory minimum sentences for child porn.” 

While on the committee, Judge Jackson was one of seven members making unanimous recommendations about changing certain sentencing laws. But also they didn’t recommend eliminating mandatory minimum sentences at all! 

The commission recommended lowering the mandatory minimum (not eliminating it) for two types of child pornography charges related to the receipt of the material (not the production). 

Also sentencing guidelines differentiated between receipt of child pornography images and possession of child pornography images in that only the receipt of the images carried a mandatory minimum sentence. The commission advised that if these charges were to have a mandatory minimum it should apply to both receipt and possession. 

That doesn’t really sound like they were recommending being soft on people possessing child porn.


Such conspiracy theories also have a long history of racial undertones associating Jews, immigrants and Black people with corrupting sexual perversions. 


This line of questioning goes past the usual conservative smear of Democrats being “soft on crime” and attempts to associate Judge Brown with QAnon conspiracy theories about pedophilia and systemic issues of covering up for sexual abusers. 

Such conspiracy theories also have a long history of racial undertones associating Jews, immigrants and Black people with corrupting sexual perversions. 

Possibly the most anger-inducing question (for me at least) was when Cornyn asked Judge Jackson if she celebrated when Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Just … why? 

How is that relevant to anything? Is there a litmus test for Black jurists that they all like each other? If Judge Jackson didn’t celebrate, does that make her nomination less historic? Aren’t Republicans against caring about “identity” over policy and qualifications? 

Not to mention the man was credibly accused of sexual harassment by a brilliant Black lawyer! 

Cornyn’s question almost feels like he’s trying to relitigate Anita Hill’s accusations and ask Judge Jackson to pick a side which is … something. Especially considering they’re upset if she sympathizes with sexual abusers, except the ones who sit on the Supreme Court (Lindsay Graham also asked if she thought Kavanaugh was treated unfairly). 


CLICK HERE TO LEAVE A TIP!


The Republicans are showing their whole racist asses and asking increasingly bizarre questions that show they’re going after gay marriage, birth control and possibly even interracial marriage next. 

I mean, Marsha Blackburn even asked Judge Jackson to define “woman.” They’re using the hearings as a political ad and this would all be over quickly if they just said they don’t like Judge Jackson because she’s Black. 

But despite all their nonsense Judge Jackson continues to answer the questions with poise and intelligence. I’m sure her performance in the hearings is only adding to her positive public perception. 

For a historic nomination she is truly giving all of us something to aspire to.


Mia Brett, PhD, is the Editorial Board's legal historian. She lives with her gorgeous dog, Tchotchke. You can find her @queenmab87.

Leave a Comment





Want to comment on this post?
Click here to upgrade to a premium membership.