American Opinion: Ketanji Brown Jackson deserves a respectful Supreme Court confirmation
American Opinion: Jackson and the nation deserve a thoughtful, respectful, principled and engaging discussion of her judicial philosophy, which likely will touch on immigration, abortion, employee rights, criminal justice, affirmative action as well as the arcane nuances of interpreting the text of the Constitution. We are confident that she will continue to display character, an even temperament and respect for the rule of law worthy of a Supreme Court justice.
In the course of any presidency, few nominations are as consequential as the selection of a Supreme Court justice. Members of the Supreme Court are appointed for life, and with such tenure comes enormous generational influence over how laws are interpreted.
There is no reason for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination hearing in the Senate, set to begin March 21, to become a blood sport, though both parties have long, ignominious histories of conflating the Constitutional responsibility of providing “advice and consent” with bitterly partisan performance theater of the absurd. A president should get his or her choice confirmed unless the nominee has ethical issues or unresolvable conflicts of interest. At this point, we see neither issue in Jackson’s background, nor indications that her judicial record and reasoning violate legal tenets or are out of the mainstream.
Jackson’s résumé also is outstanding and checks the traditional boxes for high court nominees. A Harvard law graduate, Jackson, 51, would be the eighth justice with a Harvard or Yale law degree on the current court. She was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last summer and before that served roughly eight years as a federal district judge. Jackson also clerked for three federal judges, including Justice Stephen Breyer, whom she is nominated to replace, and has been lauded as a hardworking, evenhanded student of the law.
Jackson’s nomination, which fulfills a promise then-presidential candidate Joe Biden made on the campaign trail, also represents the continuing evolution of the court from a panel occupied by only white men through most of its history to a more diverse panel that embodies varied life experiences and perspectives on the law. Jackson was vice chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which helps establish policy and sentencing guidelines for the federal courts. If confirmed, Jackson would be the first Black woman and first public defense attorney to sit on the court.
Nonetheless, Jackson’s nomination comes at a time when the Senate is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Polls show that a majority of Americans perceive the high court — now made up of six conservatives and three liberals — as overtly political . Although Jackson could be confirmed on a straight party line vote with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaker, a bipartisan vote to confirm her would not change the court’s ideological balance and could help restore faith in the court as a nonpartisan institution.
Jackson and the nation deserve a thoughtful, respectful, principled and engaging discussion of her judicial philosophy, which likely will touch on immigration, abortion, employee rights, criminal justice, affirmative action as well as the arcane nuances of interpreting the text of the Constitution. We are confident that she will continue to display character, an even temperament and respect for the rule of law worthy of a Supreme Court justice.
This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of The Dallas Morning News.
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