The insulting and demeaning questions flung at the unflappable and unfailingly polite Judge Jackson by GOP Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton and Marsha Blackburn were examples of performance art designed only to reinforce their racist reactionary bona fides to the perpetually aggrieved, angry, fearful and fact-averse Trump base. The four White men who harassed and harangued Judge Jackson viewed it as an opportunity to abuse a Black woman as a reminder, especially to the base, of the days of Jim Crow when such mistreatment was commonplace. They competed to see who could punch hardest below the belt in a brazen attempt to attract followers and campaign money.
Take Ted Cruz (please!), he who slithered off to Cancun while his Texas constituents froze to death, then blamed his being AWOL on his daughters, proved once again that no amount of slime can deter him from diving in and wallowing in it. Immediately after asking Judge Jackson if she believes “babies are racist,” he checked his Twitter feed to see how his character assassination was playing with the Trump crowd. Pretty well, actually.
Hawley, he of the raised fist in support of the January 6 insurrectionists, and Cotton, like Terrible Ted also aspirants to the Republican presidential nomination should Trump find himself behind bars in an orange onesie matching his comb-over, auditioned for the top job in the same polluted sludge. Their impertinent interrogations ranged from Hawley’s accusations that Jackson is a champion of child pornographers to his smear that public defenders (Jackson was at one time a Federal Public Defender) were somehow tainted by representing individuals accused of crimes. The eternally clueless Cotton grilled her about policy matters that are the sole responsibility of Congress and not the courts, a not-so-subtle distinction that Jackson noted for him several times. Not to be outdone by her male colleagues, Ms. Blackburn chimed in by asking the judge for her definition of “woman,” a shameless attempt to imply that the nominee supports transgender rights, which are anathema to the base. What it really showed was that Blackburn was perfectly capable of getting down and dirty in the same sewer as her partners-in-slime. Oh, and did I mention that she confused the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence?
Lindsey Graham, the opportunistic changeling whose loyalties and positions shift with every slight breeze, probed Jackson’s faith, asking if as a Protestant she could fairly judge a Catholic. He was also unhinged that, in her public defender capacity, she had represented Guantanamo detainees. She politely reminded him of (1) the landmark Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright that established the constitutional right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment, and that (2) public defenders have no discretion about which cases they are assigned. His creative juices having dried up years ago, he went on to rehash Hawley’s anxieties about child porn. Demonstrating that Jackson’s responses were of no interest to him, Graham constantly interrupted her, a performative effort designed only to enable him to secure some face time on Fox News. Perhaps he exerted himself to such an embarrassing extent in order to justify his opposition to Jackson’s appointment this time, having voted to confirm her for federal court positions twice before.
Jackson had to endure 22 hours of this despicable Republican nonsense. The purpose of such hearings is to vet the qualifications of potential Supreme Court justices. Judge Jackson not only possesses those in great abundance; she also demonstrated that her judicial temperament, sorely tried by these five avatars of how much the GOP has mutated into a racist, anti-democratic corruption of conservatism, is second to none. The contrast with how Justice Brett Kavanaugh comported himself at his confirmation hearing was stark.
Supreme Court confirmation hearings at their best should be teachable moments, instructing Americans about the Constitution, federalism and judicial philosophy that would teach listeners something about the law, relationships among the three branches of government and judicial institutions. Unfortunately, the Fetid Five made this one a lesson in gutter-sniping. Instead of examining her judicial qualifications, their nonstop bullying established beyond any doubt their lack of qualifications for Senatorial service. The competition for the dishonor of being labeled the vilest of the vile ended in a toss-up.
April 1, 2022