Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, faces four days of high-profile confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Monday’s session kicked off with up to 10-minute opening statements from Senate Judiciary Committee members, five-minute statements from outside introducers, and then 10 minutes from Jackson herself.
Jackson, 51, who currently sits on the nation’s second most powerful court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, will face questions from the committee’s 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats over two days, starting Tuesday. On Thursday, senators can ask questions of the American Bar Association and other outside witnesses.
While Democrats have the votes to confirm President Joe Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee on their own, and hope to by the middle of April, the hearings could prove critical to the White House goal of securing at least some Republican support and shoring up the court’s credibility.
ABC News Live will air gavel-to-gavel coverage of the hearings all week.
On Tuesday, Jackson will lean on her three prior experiences being questioned by the Judiciary Committee — more than any other nominee in 30 years — as its 11 Republicans and 11 Democrats take turns probing her judicial philosophy, her record as a public defender and her legal opinions spanning nearly nine years on the bench.
Jackson has spent the past few weeks practicing for the spotlight during mock sessions conducted with White House staff, sources familiar with the preparations told ABC News.
Each senator will get a 30-minute solo round of questioning on Tuesday, totaling more than 11 hours if each uses all of his or her allotted time. The grilling is unlike any other for federal judges or political nominees in large part because of the lifetime tenure on the line.
-ABC News’ Devin Dwyer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday he remains “confident” that the Senate is on track to confirm Jackson as 116th justice of the Supreme Court “by the end of this work period,” which concludes April 8.
“Over the course of the week, I expect the American people will finally see for themselves why Judge Jackson is one of the most-qualified individuals ever to be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Schumer said.
The Democrat continued, “I also trust that Americans will see right through the misleading and desperate broadsides that a few members of the other side have launched against the judge in recent weeks.”
“We need not pretend that wild accusations from self-interested actors deserve to be taken seriously,” he said. “So color me skeptical that the American people will give them much weight.”
-ABC News’ John Parkinson
Yvette McGee Brown, the first Black woman Justice on the Ohio Supreme Court, told ABC News Live she thinks Ketanji Brown Jackson “handled herself well” at Monday’s hearing.
“She was poised, she smiled,” McGee Brown said. “The cameras are on her constantly, so if she smiled at the wrong time, somebody might take something inappropriate from that smile, making it look like she wasn’t taking the process seriously. So I think the way she came across was being thoughtful, listening, hearing what they were saying, nodding occasionally. But it was the right approach.”
McGee Brown said she thinks Jackson’s background as a public defender would bring a “beneficial” “perspective” to the court.
“We want to make sure that the system lives up to the constitutional balance that the framers have put in place. It is the state’s burden to prove defendants have committed a crime — her role as a public defender was to put the state through their burden and to represent her client zealously,” McGee Brown said. “I think bringing that perspective to the court will be beneficial. It will give everyone an opportunity to understand what it’s like for people who can’t afford their own lawyer, and hopefully during this process it will educate the public about how important it is to have both sides fairly represented.”
Asked by ABC News whether the White House believes Jackson’s potential confirmation would be bipartisan, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she “certainly deserves that.”
“Without being able to get into the minds of a range of Republican members,” Psaki said, “our view’s that given she has been confirmed three times with bipartisan support, that she has extensive experience, that she has ruled in favor of Democrats and Republicans under leaders of both parties, that she certainly deserves that. But we will see what the outcome ends up being.”
-ABC News’ Justin Ryan Gomez