St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Republicans don’t have to accept extremists’ shoddy treatment of Jackson

Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee worked overtime to trip up Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson or capture a gotcha moment for the cameras during her marathon confirmation hearing this week. The spectacle was exhausting to watch, but like the nominees who went before her in recent years, Jackson handled the questions with dignity and aplomb — unlike her questioners.

Democrats have also had their share of low-blow attempts to defeat conservative Supreme Court nominees. Two notable examples are Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas, both of whom had to address direct testimony from women alleging sexual abuse or harassment. Sadly, Senate Judiciary Committee Republican extremists like Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas now think it’s their turn.

The broad experience that made Jackson such a strong choice as a nominee — she’s served as a trial judge, public defender and even school board member — now provide ample sources of material to attack her. Hawley and Cruz seem intent on painting her as the boogeywoman incarnate.

As a trial judge, she handled child pornography cases. As a public defender, she represented a terrorism suspect. And as a board member at Washington’s Georgetown Day prep school, Jackson is, in Cruz’s eyes, responsible for every book in the library and every lesson taught. Thus, Jackson is not the embodiment of critical race theory.

As if to make it appear that he’s not attacking Jackson because she’s the first Black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court, Cruz tried invoking the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Then he held up one of several Georgetown Day books and asked pointedly, “Do you agree with this book … that babies are racist?”

She replied, calmly, that such books and topics “don’t come up [in] my work as a judge, which I am respectfully here to address.” Which is exactly the point. Senators were so busy trying to create campaign-worthy video clips depicting their feigned outrage, they seemed far less concerned with the actual business of the Supreme Court.

When Hawley and others accused her of meting out soft sentences to child pornographers, she batted it right back: If senators want tougher sentences, Congress should pass tougher sentencing guidelines for judges like her to follow.

What’s happening here is fairly obvious. Midterm elections are approaching. Hawley and Cruz are trying to raise their profiles ahead of the 2024 presidential race. These antics are directly aimed at a base heavily dominated by white men and women troubled by America’s growing diversity. And Jackson is among the most high-profile symbols of that diversity.

Moderate Republican senators don’t have to accept this shoddy treatment as representative of their party. A strong bipartisan vote of approval for Jackson is the best way to counter extremism and send Hawley and Cruz back to the caves where they belong.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch