Ketanji Brown Jackson on Race and Judging
Racial issues have obviously played a big role in the public debate over President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. That’s in part because of Biden’s campaign pledge to nominate a black woman, which has been attacked by Republicans, despite the fact that race and gender played important roles in previous nominations, such as Ronald Reagan’s campaign promise to nominate a woman (resulting in the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor), and Trump’s promise to name a woman to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg (leading to the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett).
Given the controversy, it’s worth noting what KBJ herself had to say about the role of race in judging, during her recent confirmation hearing for the seat she currently occupies on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit:
Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn… asked Jackson about professional diversity and race.He said her experience as a trial judge would be a “very important qualification” and praised her “impressive” background…..
But Cornyn later said that “since our Democratic colleagues seem to be placing so much emphasis on race,” he wanted to know something else. “What role does race play, Judge Jackson, in the kind of judge you have been and the kind of judge you will be?”
Without skipping a beat, Jackson said, “I don’t think that race plays a role in the kind of judge that I have been and that I would be in the way you asked that question.”
“I’m looking at the arguments, the facts and the law, I’m methodically and intentionally setting aside personal views, any other inappropriate considerations and I would think that race would be the kind of thing that would be inappropriate to inject in my evaluation of a case,” she continued.
“I would say that my different professional background than many of the court of appeals judges, including my district court background,” she said, “would bring value.”
Cynics may think KBJ was just saying whatever she thought was necessary to get herself confirmed. But there are many ways she could have elided the question without endangering her confirmation chances, but also without flatly saying that consideration of race is “inappropriate.” For example, she could have said that a judge’s background inevitably has at least some impact on her decisions, and that is why it’s important to have diversity of all kinds on the bench. Thus, I tend to believe she sincerely meant what sh
Article from Reason.com