by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Senate Republicans indicated they will press Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson about Democratic efforts to pack the Supreme Court and block Republican judicial appointments during her confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court this week.
GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday denounced Democratic conduct during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s bitter confirmation and harkened back to prior Republican nominees who faced stiff opposition from Democrats. They also keyed in on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and dark money groups that back both Jackson and efforts to add seats to the Supreme Court.
It’s likely Jackson will be confirmed, but Republicans can still extract a political cost by highlighting hotly contested judicial confirmations from years past, particularly those involving minority conservative nominees. Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, sidestepped the issues when asked about them during a post-hearing press conference.
“I don’t want to relive that history,” Durbin said. “I think we’re pushing forward with an eye to the future.”
Almost every Republican on the committee harkened back to the Kavanaugh confirmation and vowed to run a more credible opposition. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said the Kavanaugh hearing was “one of the lowest moments in the history of this committee.”
“No one is going to ask you with mock severity, ‘Do you like beer?'” Cruz told Jackson.
Republican lawmakers invoked Schumer’s conduct respecting the Court several times. They noted that the majority spoke at a rally outside the Supreme Court during oral arguments in an abortion case in 2020. Schumer, singling out Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch by name, warned they would “pay the price” if they restricted abortion access.
“The chief justice rightly condemned these words,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said at Monday’s hearing. “I hope any nominee to the Court would be comfortable condemning these words from Senator Schumer.”