Despite her extensive résumé, Ketanji Brown Jackson is seeing many obstacles in her way as she awaits voting from members of Congress on her nomination to become an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Since President Biden nominated Jackson on Feb. 25, she has been facing extensive public scrutiny and blatant backlash over the potential of being confirmed as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham announced on Thursday that he will not be voting in favor of Jackson, after previously stating that she had his vote.
“After a thorough review of Judge Jackson’s record and information gained at the hearing … I now know why Judge Jackson was the favorite of the ‘radical left,’’ Graham stated.
“My decision is based upon her record of judicial activism, flawed sentencing methodology regarding child pornography cases and a belief that Judge Jackson will not be deterred by the plain meaning of the law when it comes to liberal causes,” he said.
Just a week earlier, Jackson was publicly scrutinized for over 20 hours on her sentencing history as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Graham had voted for Jackson to join the appeals court last year, saying that she had exceptional character and that she is highly respected by her peers..
When Sen. Josh Hawley questioned Jackson about one of her sentences as a federal judge, she responded, “What I regret is that in the hearing about my qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court, we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on this small subset of my sentences.”
Sen. Cory Booker, who understands what it’s like to be a pioneer as the first black U.S Senator to represent New Jersey, drew widespread praise for defending Jackson’s honor and record in an emotional speech during the confirmation hearings.. After serving in the Newark City Council and as the city’s mayor from 2006 to 2013, Booker has been representing New Jersey in the Senate since October of 2013.
“Cory Booker hit the nail on the head,” said Michael Codrington, a senior English major and theater minor. “What is happening to Mrs. Jackson is the epitome of what happens to Black people when they attempt to really do anything of value in America. Your mistakes get magnified, and your accomplishments get diminished.”
“For Black women, it is even worse,” Codrington added. “Anytime someone makes a statement about ‘the radical left,’ it tells me all I need to know. I just hope Mrs. Jackson stays strong.”
Despite having two degrees from Harvard, serving as both a district and federal judge, and being born in the nation’s capital, Jackson brings up a valid point about the manner in which her past and her journey to become a part of the Supreme Court is being put into question by Republicans.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, remains the only Republican to support Jackson publicly. If Graham stands true to changing his mind on Jackson, it will be the first time he voted against a Supreme Court nominee.
Despite all the scrutiny and lack of support from the Republican Party, Jackson is still expected to be confirmed by the Senate with a minimum of 51 votes next week.
“It is just sad to see Black women having to continually be treated like this, especially one with such an extensive resume like Mrs. Ketanji Brown Jackson,” said Ezra Monteiro, a junior majoring in economics. “I admire her ability to stay composed while also defending her honor. A lot of people would crack in a situation like that. … Honestly, I probably would.”
“Shoutout to Sen. Cory Booker for being the only true person out there to stand up for her,
Monteiro added. “We need more people like that, especially in the black community, in places where there are so little of us. Moments like that are so important.”
Mekhi Abbott is a public affairs reporter at Howard University.