If there was ever any truth to predictions that Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans would treat Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson gently or civilly, they are dissipating on day three of the hearings. Not all of the GOP committee members are behaving badly, but after Lindsey Graham pitched his second major conniption fit early on March 23, Ted Cruz stole the show with the most disgraceful display of thuggish senatorial behavior I’ve personally seen in my many years of watching the upper chamber. For a painfully extended period of time, the Texan shouted at Jackson for not answering his tendentious and demagogic questions about sentencing in child-porn cases, and then shouted at committee chairman Dick Durbin for trying to force Cruz to give her a chance to answer:
Joe McCarthy would have been proud.
Cruz had the gall to whine that Graham had been given extra time to rant and snarl, as though that nasty performance had become the bar to clear. The whole ridiculous display had no real point, since Cruz and other Republicans had long since established that Jackson had not “thrown the book” at child-porn consumers (as Tom Cotton put it) as they apparently think is necessary. And the whole spectacle was simply a play for the MAGA galleries, as the next Republican to speak, Ben Sasse, appeared to suggest:
Since the hearing is expected to run through March 24, it’s legitimate to fear that Cruz, Graham, Cotton, Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn, and perhaps others who have already gone medieval on Jackson could escalate the attacks until they have to be dragged out of the hearing room by security. Worse yet, the contagion could spread to Republicans who have so far confined themselves to the odd slur of Jackson’s record or crocodile tears for the martyred Brett Kavanaugh.