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More than a dozen witnesses will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday to argue for and against Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on the fourth and final day of hearings that have focused on the jurist’s sentencing record from the federal bench.
Unlike on Tuesday and Wednesday, when Jackson underwent more than 20 hours of questioning from the committee’s 22 members, the DC appeals court judge is not expected to speak — or even be in the hearing room — during Thursday’s proceedings.
The witness list includes three members of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committing of the Federal Judiciary, which rated Jackson as “well qualified” for the Supreme Court last week.
Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) will also appear before the committee to argue in Jackson’s favor alongside University of Virginia law professor Risa Goluboff, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Human Rights, appellate attorney Richard Rosenthal, and Capt. Frederick Thomas, head of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
A third panel of witnesses, who will argue against Jackson’s confirmation, include Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, George Mason University assistant law professor Jennifer Mascott, pro-life activist Eleanor McCullen, Keisha Russell of First Liberty and Alessandra Serano from anti-trafficking group Operation Underground Railroad.
Each witness will be given five minutes to deliver a statement and members of the committee will also have five minutes to ask questions.
Jackson grew increasingly frustrated with Republican members on the committee Wednesday as they continued to press the judge on a her sentences in a handful of child pornography cases.
At one point, when Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) asked if she regretted one of the penalties she handed down as being too lenient, Jackson shot back: “What I regret is that in the hearing about my qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court, we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on this small subset of my sentences.”
GOP members also clashed with chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) over access to pre-sentencing reports and probation officers’ sentencing recommendations from the cases in question.
Durbin rebuffed the Republicans’ request multiple times, calling it “a bridge too far for this committee” despite GOP members insisting they were vital to understanding Jackson’s thought process in handing down the sentences.
“We spent a lot of time here reflecting on these terrible crimes. Everyone has acknowledged how terrible they are, and how damaging they can be to the victims of crime story after story and I don’t question a single word that was spoken separately for the same victims,” Durbin said. “I would not want it weighing on my conscience that we are turning over these pre-sentence reports to this committee for the first time in history and that information out of this, because it was released, would somehow compromise or endanger any victim as a result of it.
“This information was not requested before, it’s never been requested by this committee,” he continued. “And I think we ought to think long and hard about whether or not we even consider going into pre-sentence reports.”
The committee will privately consider Jackson’s nomination Monday, with a vote on reporting her to the full Senate expected April 4. Democrats look to confirm the judge to the seat before the Senate breaks for the Easter recess in mid-April.
Jackson, who has previously been confirmed by the Senate to three federal posts, was nominated by President Biden last month to fill retiring Justice Stephan Breyer’s seat.
If confirmed, Jackson would be the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. She would join the court for its next term starting this October.