On Monday, Sen. Cory Booker told the GOP members of the Senate what most of us—and Black women particularly—were thinking during the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Booker blasted Republican senators in his remarks on April 4 for being hypocrites and for turning the process into a political battlefield, taking no prisoners, and defying reason.
Booker called out the GOP senators for saying things he called “ridiculous,” “painful,” and “hurtful.”
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Booker focused much of his ire on accusations from lawmakers such as Sen. Josh Hawley, who during the hearings implied that Judge Jackson was soft on defendants in child pornography cases and did not follow federal sentencing guidelines, highlighting one specific case in which Judge Jackson sentenced the defendant to only three months in prison.
During the hearing, Judge Jackson explained to Hawley her decision on sentencing by explaining how such determinations are made. “[T]he evidence that you are pointing to, discussing, addressing in this context is evidence that I have seen in my role as a judge and it is heinous. It is egregious,” she said of the 2013 case Hawley referred to. But it’s not that simple, she continued patiently; ultimately a judge must decide “how to sentence defendants proportionately consistent” with the current law as outlined by Congress.
But none of what Jackson said mattered. Hawley took all of his nonsense to Twitter to accuse her of having “a pattern of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker.”
At Monday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Booker ripped into Hawley’s allegations, calling them “meritless and on the verge of demagoguery.” Sen. Booker continued:
“You could try to create a straw man here, but it does not hold. And it’s just frustrating to me to listen to people trying to create a caricature of a human being whose family is law enforcement, who is a parent, and who is well within the norm in these cases.”
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He added that numerous victims' rights activists and law enforcement groups have vouched for Jackson on the issue of sentencing. But in the end, Booker pointed to what he called the blatant “disrespect” Jackson faced during the hearings.
“I’m hearing from people, not just Black women, but particularly Black women, who have been relating to me their stories of having to come into a room where you’re more qualified than the people who are sitting in judgment of you, and having to endure the absurdities of disrespect that we saw Judge Jackson endure.”
Booker tried to take a more measured tone, agreeing that it’s normal to have “political substantive disagreements” but added that the questioning he heard “triggered a hurt in so many people.”
“How can they disrespect someone who’s done everything right in her life and in her journey,” he asked. He demanded that the GOP explain: “How qualified do you have to be?”
Jackson is the first Black woman nominee in the 230-year history of the Supreme Court.
Jackson, 51, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, then attended Harvard Law School, where she graduated magna cum laude and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She served as a law clerk for three federal judges: Judge Patti B. Saris, then at the U.S. Court of Appeals, and for First Circuit Judge Bruce M. Selya. She then clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer from 1999 until 2000.
Booker closed by citing the poet Maya Angelou and her famed work, “And Still I Rise.”
“Today is the birthday of a great poet, Maya Angelou. Why does this poem strike a chord with so many Americans? Because they feel it to their bones,” Booker said.
“You may try to write me down in history with your bitter twisted lies, you may trod me in the very dirt. But still, like dust, I rise. Rise, sister Jackson. Rise, Judge Jackson, to the highest court in the land. And when we have that final vote, I will rejoice, ancestors will rejoice, and we will say, ‘Lord, this is a day you have made.’”
BOOKER’S FULL COMMENTS HERE: