Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lashed out at Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Wednesday for failing to answer questions about her record and legal philosophy from GOP senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell said that “many of Judge Jackson’s replies have been evasive and unclear,” adding that he has “deep concerns” about her.
“The far-left extremist organizations that pushed for Judge Jackson to get this position are attempting to delegitimize the court’s reputation through unconstitutional term limits or partisan court-packing,” McConnell wrote. “She was literally the choice of the court-packers for this seat. And she has consistently refused to renounce their ideas.”
McConnell pointed out that while Justice Stephen Breyer, who was to be replaced by Jackson, had no objections to adding judges to the Supreme Court, neither did the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“However, Judge Jackson has refused to follow path that Justices Ginsburg and Breyer took. She refuses to rule out anything that the radical activists desire. Where Justices Ginsburg and Breyer slammed the door shut, Judge Jackson leaves it ajar. She informed Senator Kennedy that she does have an opinion on court-packing, but it isn’t strongly held; furthermore, she wouldn’t disclose what it is to Senators.”
“The nominee also showed a remarkable lack of honesty throughout basic questions about the judicial philosophy,” McConnell continued. “When questioned about her judicial philosophy, the candidate tried to skate by simply restating the basics of a judge’s job description. She claimed that she evaluates facts in cases and treats parties fairly. That isn’t an explanation for judicial philosophy; it’s just repeating the judicial oath. It’s a non-response. These are key concerns that need to be addressed clearly.”
After that, McConnell highlighted one particular instance where Jackson said she did not handle constitutional interpretation as a judge in lower courts. “Here’s what she said,” McConnell quotes. ‘I’d say, as a side note… That while I’ve been on the bench for nine years or more, constitutional interpretation in that regard doesn’t come up very often. It does come up before the Supreme Court, but it doesn’t do so frequently in lower courts.’ In other words, ‘at least in that instance, a prospective US Supreme Court justice sought to assure the Committee that her professional experience had not prepared her for an extensive discussion of constitutional interpretation.’
In an interview with The Washington Examiner, the Senate majority leader also blasted Jackson for attempting to explain away claims that she has a soft sentencing record.
“She’s handed down sentences that are much, far below the sentencing guidelines and considerably below the government prosecutors’ demands in a number of instances. She used every possible ounce of discretion to essentially rewrite sentencing policy from the bench, regardless of whether it was regarding child exploitation or fentanyl trafficking.” He stated that while being questioned by Senator Tom Cotton, she refused to offer her opinion on sentencing guidelines, but elsewhere claimed that judges have considerable leeway when it comes to jail time. “Either subjective sentencing questions are appropriate for the judicial branch, or they aren’t. The nominee certainly can’t have it both ways,” McConnell added.
The Senate majority leader also said that Wednesday’s hearing would give Jackson another opportunity to answer the outstanding concerns she had neglected to address about her views on court-packing and criminal sentencing, as well as her approach of constitutional interpretation.
“The Senate, and the country, will be watching closely,” McConnell noted.