Ketanji Brown Jackson: America At Its Best


Between a devastating and absurd war in Eastern Europe and bouts of extreme and violent weather in the South, along with reports of an advancing variant of COVID one might think all the news is bad and unsettling. But there is one story this week that continues to be fresh and uplifting as it proves the greatest aspect of our nation.

We have every reason to be buoyed due to the intellect and character of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 22: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies on her nomination to become an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court during the Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing (Photo by Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images)

I have never sat in a law school class, but if that were to happen I would want the precise and conviction-driven analysis and presentation from the professor to be the same as the nation is now getting from Jackson. She is meeting her moment with history as the Senate Judiciary Committee rolls out days of hearings this week. I would also add, given my ‘radio ear’ for great diction and clarity of speech, she excels on that score, too.

While I very much agree the Supreme Court should look like America, and applaud President Biden for this nomination, I also appreciate the character of a nominee who we just know would also be a nice neighbor. Having quality in our highest appointees in government is essential.

But it is the importance of Jackson becoming the first African-American woman to sit on the Court that is extremely important. Life’s perspectives from a larger swath of the nation, when percolated by a court surely will have a needed impact.

Months after Marshall stepped down, Justice Sandra Day O’Con­nor, who served with the civil rights hero for 10 years, penned a gener­ous essay describ­ing “the special perspect­ive” he brought to the Court. Listen­ing to heart-pound­ing stor­ies from his days of dismant­ling Jim Crow, she recalled sitting at the justices’ confer­ence table with him, “hoping to hear, just once more, another story that would, by and by, perhaps change the way I see the world.” Marshall told his colleagues, as Justice Bryon White reflec­ted, “things that we knew but would rather forget; and he told us much that we did not know due to the limit­a­tions of our own exper­i­ence.”

It is not lost on the nation that committee Republicans are playing to the base with their inane questioning that speaks more to the culture war theatre they live in than the higher ideals of law. (Can you define “woman?) I suggest Jackson could construct the perfect definition of a jackass.

Such Republican tactics are sad, given how many Republicans talked in past nomination hearings to wishing for a higher level of conversation in such proceedings. It is even more telling the partisan road they walk given the broad array of GOP senators who supported Jackson’s confirmation to the federal court bench. Care to wager on how many of these ‘principled’ Senators will vote for Jackson later this month?

Chuck Grassley (Iowa)

Mitch McConnell (Kentucky)

Richard Shelby (Alabama)

Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma)

Susan Collins (Maine)—twice!

Mike Crapo (Idaho)

John Cornyn (Texas)

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)—twice!

Lindsay Graham (South Carolina)—twice!

Richard Burr (North Carolina)

John Thune (South Dakota)

John Barrasso (Wyoming)

Roger Wicker (Mississippi)

Jim Risch (Idaho)

Roy Blunt (Missouri)

Jerry Moran (Kansas)

Rob Portman (Ohio)

John Boozman (Arkansas)

Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) 

John Hoeven (North Dakota)

Marco Rubio (Florida)

Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)

Rand Paul (Kentucky)

Mike Lee (Utah)

Tim Scott (South Carolina)

Ted Cruz (Texas)

Deb Fischer (Nebraska)

History will judge this moment, and write of the hypocrisy of the minority party. But the story will also be told of how the United States once again strived and prevailed with our stated mission to live up to our ideals. We are helping bend the arc of history.

Feel good America. This is when we are at our best.

And so it goes.

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