Reactions to Biden’s Supreme Court Nominee Split Along Partisan Lines

By Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.
February 25, 2022Updated: February 27, 2022

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, thanked God, Breyer, and her family on Feb. 25 during her introduction at the White House.

Jackson is a former member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a former federal district court judge, and, most recently, a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, one of the most influential federal benches.

“I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking God for delivering me to this point in my professional journey,” Jackson said following Biden’s introduction in a White House ceremony.

“My life has been blessed beyond measure, and I do know that one can only come this far by faith. Among those many blessings and indeed the first is that I was born in this great country,” Jackson said. “The United States of America is the greatest beacon of hope and democracy the world has ever known. I was also blessed from my earliest days with the support of a loving family.”

Jackson praised Breyer, for whom she had clerked as a young lawyer, saying he “exemplified every day in every way that a Supreme Court Justice can perform at the highest level of skill and integrity, while also being guided by civility, grace, pragmatism, and generosity of spirit.”

Addressing Breyer, Jackson said, “The members of the Senate will decide if I will fill your seat, but please know that I could never fill your shoes.”

In closing, Jackson noted that she shares the birthdate of the first black woman to serve on the federal judiciary, Judge Constance Baker Motley.

“We were born exactly 49 years to the day apart. Today, I proudly stand on Judge Motley’s shoulders, sharing not only her birthday but her steadfast and courageous commitment to equal justice under law,” Jackson said.

“Judge Jackson is an exceptionally qualified nominee as well as an historic nominee, and the Senate should move forward with a fair and timely hearing and confirmation,” the White House said in a statement announcing the nomination.

In addition to being the first black woman on the High Court, Jackson would also be the first justice with prior experience as a public defender in the federal judiciary.

Jackson’s confirmation is by no means assured, as the Senate is evenly split, with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, and Vice President Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) holding the tie-breaker on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a statement praising Biden for “undertaking a thoughtful, deliberate selection process,” and promised that “Senate Democrats will work to ensure a fair, timely, and expeditious process—fair to the nominee, to the Senate, and to the American public.”

Jackson will be meeting with individual senators on both sides of the aisle in coming weeks prior to her first confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the panel’s chairman, called Jackson “an extraordinary nominee” and said the committee will move quickly to convene hearings on the nomination.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking GOP member of the committee, said he looks forward to meeting with Jackson, and to “working with Senator Durbin to finalize the committee’s initial questionnaire and records request, as is customary in this process.

Grassley added, however, that “as ranking member, I have no intention of degrading the advice and consent role as Senate Democrats have in recent confirmations. I intend to show up and do the job that Iowans pay me to do.” He was referring to the prolonged and bitter controversies surrounding President Donald Trump’s nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The judiciary panel’s former Republican chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said simply that he expects “a respectful but interesting hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee,” and added laconically that “the Harvard-Yale train to the Supreme Court continues to run unabated.”

Graham, along with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), voted to confirm Jackson to her present position on the appellate bench. Jackson also was praised by former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is related to her by marriage.

“Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character, and for her integrity, is unequivocal.” Ryan wrote on Twitter.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Jackson “one of the sharpest legal minds in a generation” and said her nomination is “a moment of great pride and patriotism for our nation, as Judge Jackson makes history as the first Black woman selected to serve on the highest court in the land.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) congratulated Jackson on being the nominee, but noted that he had opposed her confirmation to a lower federal court.

“I voted against confirming Judge Jackson to her current position less than a year ago,” McConnell said. “Since then, I understand that she has published a total of two opinions, both in the last few weeks, and that one of her prior rulings was just reversed by a unanimous panel of her present colleagues on the D.C. Circuit. I also understand Judge Jackson was the favored choice of far-left dark-money groups that have spent years attacking the legitimacy and structure of the Court itself.”

The House Democratic Women’s Caucus issued a statement saying Jackson is “an exceptionally qualified judge with an unimpeachable character.”

Reactions in the legal advocacy and academic communities varied from enthusiastic to carefully cautious.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund praised Biden’s choice, saying, “Diversity on our nation’s highest court sends a powerful message to the country that our justice system is informed by a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, which is critical to ensuring the legitimacy of the Court in a multicultural nation.”

Alliance Defending Freedom General Counsel Kristen Waggoner said the conservative public interest law firm that specializes in religious freedom cases doesn’t endorse judicial nominees.

But she said that “if confirmed, we pray that Judge Jackson will heed the magnitude of that concern and respect the limits of her judicial office, ruling according to the Constitution, and not legislating from the bench.”

Professor Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law told The Epoch Times he thinks she “will likely get confirmed, but I do not know if she has the same ability as Justice Breyer to moderate the court and build bridges with Chief Justice John Roberts and the Court’s moderates.”

David McIntosh, Club for Growth president and co-founder of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal scholarship group, told The Epoch Times that Jackson represents a radical left-wing jurisprudence.

“It’s unfortunate that President Biden chose to play racial politics instead of simply selecting the person he thought was most qualified. It should come as no surprise that Biden picked a reliable radical who has a long record of political and judicial activism, including defending terrorists, letting violent criminals out on the streets, and supporting liberal labor unions,” he said.