NYT op-ed claims senators voting against Ketanji Brown Jackson 'complicit' in her 'abuse'

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Former Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse claimed on Friday that senators who vote against confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next associate justice on the nation’s highest court will be “complicit” in her “abuse” by Republicans.

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Greenhouse, who spent thirty years covering the Supreme Court for the liberal paper, claimed Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee mischaracterized Jackson’s record as a lawyer and judge with “racist dog whistles,” “QAnon shout-outs,” and innuendos towards support for terrorism in a manner of behavior vastly different from confirmation hearings in the past.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, March 21, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, March 21, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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Greenhouse cited the confirmation hearings of past nominees, going all the way back to the late former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in lamenting how “whiplash”-inducing and hyper-partisan hearings had become today. She, however, failed to mention Democrats’ treatment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his contentious 2018 confirmation hearings that involved last minute allegations of sexual misconduct, including gang rape.

“When Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination reaches the Senate floor soon, every Republican who votes against her confirmation will be complicit in the abuse that the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee heaped on her,” Greenhouse wrote. 

“Every mischaracterization of Judge Jackson’s record on the bench. Every racist dog whistle about crime. Every QAnon shout-out about rampant child pornography. Every innuendo that a lawyer who represents suspected terrorists supports terrorism,” she added. “The Republican senators who don’t disavow their colleagues’ behavior during last week’s confimation [sic] hearing will own it. All of it.”

Justice Elena Kagan joined the Supreme Court in 2010 after being nominated by former President Barack Obama.

Justice Elena Kagan joined the Supreme Court in 2010 after being nominated by former President Barack Obama. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

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Greenhouse went on to describe what she saw as the “abuse” perpetrated by various Republican senators, noting they questioned Jackson on topics such as her faith, her views on sex offenders and her definition of a “woman”.

She then described past confirmation hearings, including O’Connor’s, Justice Elena Kagan’s, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s. She said none of the opposition to them was “mean,” unlike against Jackson. She claimed “Republicans oozed venom” and their questioning about Jackson’s judgement in cases involving child sex offenders was “plucked from thin air because there was nothing of substance for them to complain about.” 

“The Republicans’ role in the Jackson hearing was not remotely about Ketanji Brown Jackson. It was about concocting a scary version of a Black woman to serve up to their base,” Greenhouse wrote.

She also brought up the confirmation hearings of failed nominee Robert Bork and Justice Neil Gorsuch, but failed to mention Democrats’ treatment of Kavanaugh.

In this Oct. 8, 2018, file photo, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh stands before a ceremonial swearing-in in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

In this Oct. 8, 2018, file photo, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh stands before a ceremonial swearing-in in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

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Amid his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh faced a slew of unsubstantiated sexual misconduct accusations on which Democrats capitalized in an attempt to sink his nomination.

They failed, however, as Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed by the Senate in a 50-48 largely party line vote, with one Democrat voting in favor.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on Jackson’s confirmation on Monday, Apr. 4, and is expected to approve her confirmation to be sent for a full vote in the Senate.

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