March 25, 2022 | Reading Time: 6 minutes

No, Senate Democrats did not ‘strand’ Ketanji Brown Jackson

Let’s not steal “Black joy.” Let’s rage against those deserving it.

KBJ.
KBJ.

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In some quarters of the liberal-left, it’s rapidly becoming conventional wisdom that the Senate Democrats insufficiently protected Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson from smears and lies told by the Senate Republicans during this week’s marathon confirmation hearings.

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick is representative of this when she wrote Wednesday that, “beyond a handful of such moments, and notably [Senator Cory] Booker’s final speech, virtually everything Democrats did felt insufficient to the moment. More than that, it felt inexplicable.”

Booker aside, Lithwick said, the Democrats “stranded” Judge Jackson.

No offense to Lithwick, who’s been covering the judiciary and the US Supreme Court for years, but I’m skeptical of her cynicism. The quarter of the liberal-left I referred to above is preternaturally unhappy with the Democrats. It’s more posture than position.

What does a normal person think? 

What does a normal Black woman think?


The story was Cory Booker giving Judge Jackson exactly what she needed when she needed it. That’s the kind of support Black folks who are one of few to occupy elite social circles need and seldom get.”


“I thought they did a great job at being the adults in the room and giving the hearings the professionalism they deserve, even as the GOP tried turning them into a circus while blaming the Democrats,” Michelle B. Young told me. “Projection is all the Republicans have.

“I was particularly impressed with how Jon Ossoff, Alex Padilla and Dick Durbin forcefully called out GOP lies and fishing expeditions.”

Michelle is a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati and, for the moment, a stay-at-home mom. I wanted to know what a normal person had to say about Judge Jackson’s hearings. I especially wanted to know how they looked from the point of view of a Black woman. I happened on Michelle’s enlightening Twitter feed and got in touch.

Lithwick, who is white, set aside Booker’s speech on a theme of patriotism and “Black joy” to focus on the Senate Democrats once again failing to live up to the liberal-left’s high expectations of them. 

For Michelle B. Young, however, that speech was the centerpiece. (She didn’t overlook the GOP’s transgressions, however. See more below.) 

The story was Cory Booker giving Judge Jackson exactly what she needed when she needed it. That’s the kind of support Black folks who are one of few to occupy elite social circles need and seldom get.”

Booker said nobody’s going to steal “his joy” at seeing Judge Jackson make history as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. (Joe Manchin said this morning he would vote for her, which means she’s virtually guaranteed confirmation.) Booker said in his speech: 

“Nobody’s taking this away from me.”

Let’s not steal anyone’s joy.

Save the rage for those truly responsible.

Bloomberg’s Kelsey Butler called the hearings “three days of microaggressions.” She said: “Alongside the justified grilling … are the unnecessary interruptions, unfounded accusations she embraced critical race theory and tirades about other judicial nominees.” 

How does that sound to you?

If only they were just microaggressions! 

Yes, microaggressions were there. The constant interruptions. Not letting her complete her thoughts or sentences. Deliberately twisting her written words – she said, “Well senator, if you look two sentences down, you’ll see the answer to your question,” and I cheered! – and her spoken words. But it was so much more than microaggression.


“It was so much more than microaggression. It was aggressive aggression. It was outright contempt. There was nothing micro about it. If this is how an Ivy League-pedigreed Black woman at the top of her field gets treated, imagine how hard it is for ‘normal’ Black women!”


It was aggressive aggression.

It was outright contempt.

There was nothing micro about it. 

If this is how an Ivy League-pedigreed Black woman at the top of her field gets treated, imagine how hard it is for “normal” Black women!

Instead of imagining it, I can listen to you tell me.

Normal Black women are routinely assumed to be “affirmative action” picks. Unqualified, dumb, lazy. They project all kinds of inadequacies onto us. Truth is, we have to be twice as good to get half as much.

So that’s how “normal” Black women are treated.

Thing is, Judge Jackson is an extraordinary Black woman. Her resume is insane. Literally, everyone in the room is less qualified than she is. 

Marsha “rat’s nest on her head” Blackburn is a former beauty queen and a home economics major (what is she even doing on the Judiciary Committee?). Yet she was patronizing, condescending and oozing with contempt she barely hid for this Black woman who’s making history.


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And please don’t get me started on Lindsey “the kompromat must be good to make me heel-turn for Trump” Graham or Josh “I am an insurrectionist and the thought of kissing my wife makes me puke” Hawley or Ted “nobody likes me, not even my own daughter” Cruz.

This is a job interview and they’re treating Judge Jackson like a pedophile! They have nothing personal against her. They know she’s qualified, far more qualified than the last three nominees put together.

They also know they don’t have the votes in the Senate to stop her confirmation – or even a good reason to try stopping it. So smearing her is an exercise in punishment for being on the other team and for daring to occupy a space previously held exclusively by white men. 

Can you linger on contempt. As best you can tell, why is there so much contempt? Spell it out, please, like I don’t know anything.

There have been 115 justices of the United States Supreme Court. One hundred eight have been white men. That’s 94 percent. 

There have been five women: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett. That’s since the 1980s. Three of the five are currently serving. 

To say the United States Supreme Court has been a bastion for the good-ole white-boy network is to put it mildly. 

White men are used to having exclusive control over our most powerful institutions. They do not want to give that up. 

The Republicans are not even pretending they care about policies anymore. They didn’t adopt policy positions during the Trump era. 


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Their raison d’etre for being a political party is the politics of white grievance and the fear of demographic change. That’s it! 

Every single issue they exploit is designed to uphold white supremacist patriarchy and to scare their base into thinking they are the only real true citizens and everybody else is out to get them.

“Build the wall” means “keep immigrants out.”

“Defund the police” means “Black anarchy!”

“Critical race theory” means “don’t hurt white people’s feels.”

Even their pet cause, abortion, is not about life or religion. 

It’s about forcing white women to have more babies so white people stay a majority in this country. (See Jane Elliot’s excellent explanation.)

What we are witnessing is a whitelash because America elected a Black man as president. A large section of white society never got over it. So they are doing everything they can to keep it from happening again! 

That’s why they are engaging in outrageous voter suppression efforts. They value white patriarchy even more than they value democracy. 

Even the so-called “good republicans” like Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Mitt Romney do not support voting rights. If you don’t support that, you are not pro-democracy, no matter how you cut it.

The GOP knows their regressive positions are deeply unpopular. That’s why they want to choose their voters rather than face voter rejection.

The voters they are going to choose are white, because the majority of white people have been voting Republican since the civil rights act passed in 1964. It’s about race and racism, and it has always been.

It sounds to me like someone here deserves contempt. Should Americans standing against democracy be held in contempt?

The people who do not support voting rights as well as people who accepted Vladimir Putin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election on account of being more invested in a global white supremacist rightwing authoritarian power structure than in having a multicultural democratic society here at home are the people who deserve contempt

Not Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson! 


“Please don’t get me started on Lindsey ‘the kompromat must be good to make me heel-turn for Trump’ Graham or Josh ‘I’m an insurrectionist and the thought of kissing my wife makes me puke’ Hawley or Ted ‘nobody likes me, not even my own daughter’ Cruz.


Rightwing authoritarianism is a global threat. Not just Putin, but also Donald Trump and those who carried out the failed J6 coup. White people are scared of demographic change worldwide. That fear is driving a massive backlash in which white people choose whiteness over democracy. That creates a national security risk. Putin exploits it.

Is anti-racism patriotism?

“Patriotism” has been defined by the GOP. The Republicans always refer to themselves as “patriots.” They have successfully branded a specific kind of Americanness as “patriotic” – and it’s very white. 

It’s country music and “support our troops” and church (evangelical Protestants) and the nuclear family and women being obedient and staying at home. In this world, if racial minorities and LGBTQ people exist at all, they exist to “know their place” – and that place is not in the hierarchy, at least not higher than any of them in the hierarchy. 

Whereas people like me and Cory Booker and Judge Jackson (and even Hillary Clinton) do see real true patriotism as being inclusive and multicultural and accepting of the gay and trans communities. 

The belief in anyone anywhere growing up and becoming a success is quintessentially American. It is the American dream! That’s the vision of a “more perfect union” that got Barack Obama elected twice! The whitelash and myopic patriotism – these elected Donald Trump.

These are competing visions of America. 

I know which I’m rooting for.


John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.

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