SCOTUS Hearings Displayed Utter Disrespect for the Nominee

by Lauren Frank ‘23

Last month, Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first African American woman Supreme Court nominee confirmed in the Senate. After several days of contentious hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, a final 53-47 vote by the full Senate decided Jackson’s long-awaited fate. Her confirmation is definitely worth celebrating as it marks a significant historical moment in the Supreme Court. However, the Senate Judiciary Committee is definitely not worth celebrating. 

Throughout the hearings, Republicans on the committee made their bias against Jackson quite obvious, rudely questioning her credibility as a judge, and bringing up issues that did not even relate to the sole purpose of the hearing. Some of these out-of-pocket and hostile instances include absurdly asking Jackson to define the word “woman,” unfairly suggesting that she had given overly lenient sentences to defendants convicted of child pornography, and criticizing her views on critical race theory. Overall, the atmosphere on the Senate floor was clearly toxic and harsh towards Jackson. This hearing seemed like another opportunity for Republicans to rally their party base instead of engaging in respectful inquiry regarding Jackson’s qualifications as a judge. 

Notably, underlying sexism appears to lie within these confirmation hearings. While Republican Senators were hostile towards Jackson with their questioning, these Republicans could argue that the Democrats acted overly tough towards Brett Kavanaugh during his 2018 confirmation hearing. The stark difference though is that in the Kavanaugh hearing, the Democrats investigated serious allegations of sexual assault with victims testifying under oath. However, there are no comparable allegations against Jackson. Nothing whatsoever.

 The Republican Senators’ argument that the Democratic Senators were hostile towards Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing does not justify the Republicans’ treatment of Jackson during her hearing. The fact that the Republicans treated her the way they did is a clear indication of misogynoir towards a competent and poised jurist. Why are politicians, especially minority women, still looked down upon to this day?