Wake Up To Politics - March 22, 2022
by Gabe Fleisher
Good morning! It’s Tuesday, March 22, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 231 days away. Election Day 2024 is 959 days away.
What KBJ will be asked about
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson will face her first day of questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
It will be a big day not just for Jackson, but also for several members of the committee with presidential ambitions, from Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) on the right to Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on the left.
Here are four major themes you can expect to come up at the confirmation hearing:
1. Jackson’s potential political leanings. In her opening statement before the committee on Monday, Jackson stressed her apolitical style of jurisprudence. “I decide cases from a neutral posture,” she said. “I evaluate the facts. And I interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case before me, without fear or favor.”
But several Republican senators signaled in their opening statements that they would probe whether Jackson is true to that credo. “In some instances, it appears that your advocacy has bled over into your decision-making process as a judge,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) alleged.
One case that will likely come along these lines is her 2019 opinion knocking down then-President Donald Trump’s attempts to shield his advisers from testifying before Congress. “Presidents are not kings,” she famously wrote, a line that will likely receive scrutiny from Republican senators for possible anti-Trump bias.
Also expect to hear questions about Demand Justice, a liberal group that has advocated for her confirmation. Several GOP senators brought up the group on Monday, suggesting the group’s advocacy suggested a political bent on Jackson’s part. Cornyn said he would ask her why “pro-abortion, dark money groups like Demand Justice” were “pouring millions of dollars into a public campaign in support of your nomination.”
2. Allegations that Jackson is “soft on crime.” Democrats are likely to stress the fact that, if confirmed, Jackson, would become the first former public defender ever to join the Supreme Court.
However, Republicans will try to turn the same part of her record into a liability. GOP senators have signaled plans to ask questions about several clients Jackson took on as a public defender, including detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison.
They are also likely to ask about her efforts to ease sentencing guidelines as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Together, the GOP will aim to use the two parts of Jackson’s record to tag her as “soft on crime” — a message they have also attempted to level against Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.
Most controversially, Hawley has claimed that Jackson “has a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook” throughout her career. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and even the conservative National Review have dismissed his claims — pointing out that Hawley’s tweets on the matter took Jackson’s quotes out of context and obscured the fact that her recommendations on the sentencing commission were unanimously backed by the bipartisan panel.
That didn’t stop Hawley and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) from bringing up the debunked claims on Monday, so expect them to do so again today — giving Jackson her first opportunity to respond to the allegations.
3. Previous Supreme Court confirmation battles. Although Jackson’s confirmation process has been fairly low-key so far, it has featured echos of some of the more contentious Supreme Court battles that have taken place before it.
Throughout the opening statements on Monday, many Republican senators voiced latent frustrations about Democrats’ handling of the hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, which included claims of sexual assault from his high school days.
“Judge Jackson, I can assure you that your hearing will feature none of that disgraceful behavior,” Cruz said. “No one is going to inquire into your teenage dating habits.” Based on the amount it came up on Monday, don’t be surprised if GOP senators try to get Jackson to weigh in on the Kavanaugh hearings today, a topic she will almost certainly try to avoid.
Another related issue Republicans brought up on Monday: court packing. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) referred to Democratic proposals to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court as “efforts to delegitimize the court,” and signaled he would press Jackson for an opinion on them. Again, she will likely demur from opining on the issue.
4. The historic nature of Jackson’s nomination. While Republicans seek answers from Jackson on some of these more controversial issues, Democrats will likely lob softer questions at the judge — while emphasizing the history behind her nomination.
Jackson is the first Black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court in its 233-year history, fulfilling a pledge made by President Biden on the campaign trail. In their opening statements Monday, most Democrats on the committee praised Jackson as an inspiration.
“You are living witness to the fact that, in America, all is possible,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Judiciary Committee chair, said.
“We are on the precipice of shattering another ceiling,” Booker said in his statement. “I just feel this sense of overwhelming joy as I see you sitting there.” Democrats probably won’t hide that sense of joy throughout today — and are also likely to serve up questions reminding viewers of Jackson’s mold-breaking nomination.
Click here to watch Jackson’s confirmation hearing today.
What else you should know to start your day.
- “Ukraine said it retook a strategically important suburb of Kyiv early Tuesday, as Russian forces squeezed other areas near the capital and their attack on the embattled southern port of Mariupol raged unabated,” the Associated Press reports.
- “President Joe Biden on Monday warned of Russian cyberattacks against the U.S. — making his most prominent alert yet about what he called new intelligence concerning the Putin regime’s plans,” Politico reports.CAMPAIGNS
- “The ex-wife of Missouri GOP Senate candidate Eric Greitens accused him in court documents Monday of knocking her down, taking away her cellphone and keys, physically abusing their children and repeatedly threatening suicide if she did not publicly support him during the 2018 scandal that led to his resignation as governor,” the Washington Post reports.
- The new allegations from Greitens’ ex-wife led to some of his opponents calling for him to leave the Senate race. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who has endorsed another candidate in the primary, did so as well: “If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate,” Hawley tweeted.
What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern)
- President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (10:15am). He has no other events on his public schedule.
- Press Secretary Jen Psaki and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will hold the daily White House press briefing (1pm). CONGRESS
- The Senate will convene (10am) and resume consideration of the America COMPETES Act, the House-passed bill aimed at increasing U.S. semiconductor production to boost competitiveness with China. The Senate voted 66-29 on Monday to advance the measure.
- The chamber will then recess for weekly caucus lunches (12:30pm). After returning from the lunches (2:15pm), the Senate may vote on confirmation of some judicial nominees.
- The House is not in session.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold Day 2 of its confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson (9am). Each member of the panel will be able to question Jackson for 30 minutes, in order of seniority. COURTS
- The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Golan v. Saada (10am). The case is a dispute between Narkis Golan, a U.S. citizen, and Isacco Saada, an Italian citizen, over custody of their Italian-born child. In 2018, Golan — alleging that Saada had domestically abused her — took their child to the U.S. and never returned.
- Under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the child is supposed to be returned to his home country so the custody dispute can be resolved there — unless that would constitute a “grave risk” to the child.
- A circuit court ruled that the child had to be returned to Italy, but with a collection of measures instituted to protect him. Golan has appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Hague Convention does not say the “grave risk” provision can be overridden by such protective measures. The justices will decide whether measures to mitigate “grave risk” should be taken into account when courts are ruling whether children in such disputes should be returned to their home countries.
Before I go...
A lighter news story for you: A recent Ipsos poll asked Americans which political TV shows they believe accurately portray real life.
The winners? “The West Wing” and “Madam Secretary,” with 51% of Americans saying the former was accurate in its portrayal and 46% saying so for the latter.
The satirical “Veep” came in last place among the shows surveyed, with just 27% saying it was an accurate portrayal. Having spent some time around politicians and their staffs, I’m not sure I share the survey respondents’ optimism on this one!
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