Vermont Senator says Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination sends a message to women “you can make it to the highest level”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination is not only symbolic. He calls her ‘extraordinarily qualified.’
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 2:47 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As the longest sitting Senator, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has witnessed a number of historic Supreme Court nomination hearings. The nomination for Ketanji Brown Jackson is no different, as the judge could soon become the first Black woman to ever sit on the Supreme Court.

“I think it’s so important to America that we see a court that looks more and more like the rest of America,” Leahy said, “...I think Judge Jackson, not only is she extraordinarily qualified, one of the most qualified nominees I’ve seen from either party’s president. But, what a signal it sends to women and women of color. You can make it to the highest level.”

Leahy was a prosecutor for eight years. Hew said he is most focused on how fair Jackson will be on the bench. He focused on the theme of ‘fairness’ during his line of questioning Tuesday, asking the judge about her criminal justice record. Each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee had 30 minutes to question Jackson.

Leahy addressed much of his questioning on the time period in which Jackson served as a public defender and therefore was not able to choose her clients.

“I’ve argued a lot of cases and at the trial level and at the appellate level, I want to know that whoever comes there, whether they’re arguing from Vermont or anywhere else, can look at her and say no matter what their political background is, this person as a justice who will give me a fair hearing,” he said. “That’s where we’ve argued for our courts in Vermont. We’ve had Republican appointed judges and Democratic appointed judges. But I think most people feel are our judiciaries in Vermont at the trial and appellate level. Don’t play partisan politics. They just try to do what’s best. That’s what Vermonters expect of a judge. And as the Vermonter who has to represent all of my state on the Judiciary Committee, I want them to know I’m looking for the kind of judge we we want in Vermont.”

The Biden administration is emphasizing Judge Brown Jackson’s “outstanding qualifications” and deep understanding of the law.

A graduate of Harvard, Judge Brown Jackson was a federal public defender before being named to the federal bench in 2012. She’s currently on the Appeals Court of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

If confirmed, Judge Brown Jackson will replace Justice Stephen Breyer who is retiring. She would be one of the youngest justices on the bench. Members serve for life, or until they chose to retire.

Judge Brown Jackson is expected to be confirmed, in part due to a rule change when Senator Mitch McConnell was the majority leader. In 2017, the Senate did away with the filibuster of Supreme Court nominees, which means only 51 votes are needed to send Jackson to the bench.

Donald Trump named 3 members of the court, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Comey Barrett.

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