Flowers: Finally, a boring Supreme Court justice hearing
Published 10:39 am Friday, April 1, 2022
As predicted, Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing were pretty boring. Almost yawn-worthy. She’s a fairly boring person to being with, which I suppose is a good thing since we don’t need to worry about high school classmates popping up with lurid stories about Michelob parties, etc.
I’m very glad that there is no way to attack the character of Ketanji Brown Jackson, because I was truly disgusted in the lack of humanity displayed by people who inhabit the same modern country I do, but who adopted the values of the old Mongol warriors. When Brett Kavanaugh was the nominee, they unsheathed their spears and went for the jugular. It was ugly, unfair, and dishonest.
But just because it was a few boring few days in the Senate trenches, that doesn’t mean it was completely uneventful. Sen. Ted Cruz lobbed some questions about Brown’s support for “critical race theory,” as did Sen. Marsha Blackburn. Later in the hearing, Sen. Josh Hawley highlighted the fact that Brown has a rather spotty history on sentencing those convicted of child pornography, departing downward from the sentencing guidelines on many occasions. And she willingly, with a full heart, represented Guantanamo detainees.
Defending the constitutional rights of truly repellent people like suspected terrorists might not be everyone’s cup of tea (I’d never do it) but it’s still well within the ethical standards of the legal profession. In fact, some people think it’s an honorable thing to do.
And the whole critical race theory thing, while troubling in most contexts, is probably not that relevant to a judge who has been very open about her political views. Brown is a liberal activist, the sort of judge who will never please a Trump voter, a Bush voter and maybe not even a (Bill) Clinton voter. None of us expected her to, after Joe Biden was intimidated into bowing down, supine, to the extreme left of his sinking party. Brown is exactly what we were promised, so the critical race theory stuff is philosophical fluff at this stage.
But the child pornography thing is troubling, and the fact that the left is going on the offensive about it is quite telling. They have tried to place her conduct in context, noting that many judges give light sentences to those who’ve been convicted of child porn offenses, depending upon the circumstances of their involvement. They’ve even pointed out, correctly, that a lot of those judges are Republicans. That’s true.
They have justified her approach as therapeutic, trying to deal with criminals as criminals, and sick people as sick people. And they have attacked anyone who raises the issue as a liar, a sexist, a racist, and all other sorts of things. I was attacked for saying that Josh Hawley was right to focus on this issue, because ignoring relevant conduct by a sitting judge is senatorial malpractice.
Or to put it another way, if having a few beers as a high school senior makes you a rapist, what does having sympathy for a child pornographer make you? Just asking, which is what Hawley did, and what he was supposed to do under the whole principle of advise and consent.
Of course, we then have Sen. Jon Osoff coming out and comparing this questioning to “cruelty,” which must have Justice Kavanaugh running the bathroom because he’s laughing so hard. Cruelty, indeed.
In the end, none of this is going to derail the nomination. There are too many “yes” votes this time around, and that’s fine. That’s how Trump was able to get three justices of his own on the court, simple math (and a very brave moment by Sen. Susan Collins, who ignored liberal attacks and death threats and voted to confirm Kavanaugh).
But I am delighting in watching liberals try and joust with shadows, and with the ghosts of their own prior villainy. They remember what they did to Kavanaugh, and to a lesser extent to Amy Coney Barrett, and are projecting their own hatred and despicable conduct onto their GOP colleagues. That makes it easy for them to attack people like Cruz, Blackburn and Hawley for doing what any senator worth his paycheck should be doing — asking the questions that need to be answered.
Just because they don’t want to hear the answers doesn’t mean they can enforce an artificial silence.
Because that would be so boring, wouldn’t it?
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.