Day two of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination got weird early on when Lindsey Graham pitched a temper tantrum about Gitmo detention policies – a topic remote from Jackson’s long record of jurisprudence – and stalked out of the room.
Graham wasn’t the only Republican who decided to use the hearings to air grievances that had little to do with Jackson. Senator Ted Cruz got down and dirty right away, starting his 30-minute time-slot with a tendentious effort to tie Jackson to the pet right-wing cause of critical race theory:
That’s right: The Texas senator went far enough down the rabbit hole to note that the private school on whose board the judge serves has anti-racism books on its summer recommending reading list for students, as Raw Story reports:
During Jackson’s Senate confirmation hearing, Cruz brought up books that were apparently on the recommended reading list at the Georgetown Day School where Jackson serves as a member of the board of trustees.
“They include a book called ‘Antiracist Baby,’” Cruz informed her. “There are portions of this book that I find really quite remarkable. One portion of the book says babies are taught to be racist or anti-racist, there is no neutrality. They recommend babies confess when being racist … Do you agree with this book, that is being taught with kids, that babies are racist?”
Cruz had blown-up illustrations from the book.
Jackson calmly explained that she did not believe in this teaching, not that it is really being “taught” to kids at Georgetown Day; she also pointed out that Georgetown Day is a private school, not one of the public schools where school boards are allegedly imposing CRT and COVID-19 masks on unhappy parents.
Cruz also suggested Jackson might be a proponent of critical race theory because she studied at Harvard Law School, where CRT was deployed by some faculty (Cruz went there around the same time). And the senator pointed to a 2005 speech Jackson made mentioning CRT as one of a number of academic topics affecting criminal-sentencing policy (not jurisprudence).
Cruz also held up a bright-red chart with a remark Jackson made while serving on the U.S. Sentencing Commission. He chose to interpret it as expressing sympathy for sex offenders; a fairer take is that she was stressing that there can be varying levels of culpability for a crime.
Having rapidly thrown out a bucketful of innuendo, Cruz later reopened and expanded some of the allegations Senator Josh Hawley made yesterday about Jackson’s record in child-porn cases, extensively questioning her about a student-law-review note she wrote in 1996. The back-and-forth almost certainly mystified most viewers.
Cruz’s questioning made it clearer than ever that at least some Judiciary Committee Republicans remain determined to make these hearings a battleground for culture-war themes they are already hammering at in the run-up to the 2022 midterms. That’s certainly how the official Republican Party Twitter account seemed to view it in a crude commentary on Cruz’s attacks:
Republicans didn’t really lay a glove on Judge Jackson during Tuesday’s hearing, but this stuff is part of a deeper campaign that has almost nothing to do with her or even the U.S. Supreme Court. We’ll probably hear much more of it in the coming days.
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