The 4 Days of KBJ

Takeaways from the Senate confirmation hearing of Ketanji Brown Jackson

March 22, Day 2 of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the appointment of Circuit Court Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson (KBJ) to the Supreme Court of the United States

A Supreme Court nominee replaces ‘judicial philosophy’ with ‘methodology:’ a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity

During her opening statement and during questioning, Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson didn’t mention ‘non-partisan’ or ‘partisan’ once. She didn’t fall for the typical pre-election, dog whistle slurs.

She did mention ‘methodology’ a lot. Throwing a curve at Sen. Ben Sasse’s inference that she was ‘left’ of retiring Justice Steven Breyer on ‘judicial philosophy,’ KBJ gave a rehearsed reply. In her experience with both Justice Breyer and Scalia, she shared her observation that it was Scalia’s originalist position with determining constitutionality, not Breyer’s interpretation-leaning (aka “textualist”) approach that the Court had developed. And she argued eloquently Scalia’s position on a recent case involving privacy.

KBJ shared her understanding and sensitivity that the court has — I do not recall her exact word — ‘come to accept’ the Scalia reading, the originalist route, the positing of the Constitution at the time it was written. As example she cited what ‘privacy’ meant in late eighteenth century America as a starting point to extrapolate from ‘cell phones weren’t invented yet.’

‘Gee, you’re really smart… and… winsome,’

-Senator Ben Sasse

The Democrats on the Committee had rehearsed at nothin’ except to revise, clarify and correct — for the public record — the inanities coming from their Republican colleagues.

“And Congress didn’t decide on guidelines for sentencing child pornographers and child traffickers,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, looking mildly remorseful after KBJ’s fourth attempt to air her point about Congress’s responsibility at setting guidelines for law enforcement sentencing.

Nothing like learning about legislative mission during Supreme Court appointment hearings. Let the record show that the public heard during the Judicial Committee hearing on the appointment of Appeals Court Justice Kentanji Brown-Jackson , March 22, admission of dereliction of duty.

So for the time being, the ‘judicial philosophy’ smear was put to rest, only to resurface after the ‘dinner break’ with Sen. Marcia Blackburn’s ticking off judicial philosophy salvos,

“Could you define for me what is a woman?”

This non sequitur was one of several Blackburn attempts at political theater.

It almost feels as if this partisan ‘thing’ has gotten out of hand to the point of taking up the public’s time with posturing and solipsistic diatribe in place of passing any meaningful legislation.

Something America desperately needs.

Cory Booker’s Colloquy

The Senator from New Jersey captures a historical moment

March 23, Day 3 of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on the appointment of Circuit Court Justice Kentanji Brown-Jackson (KBJ) to the Supreme Court of the United States

For many ‘how we got here’ is not the same as ‘we have arrived.’

She went back…,” so described Sen. Booker’s admiration for Harriet Tubman during his allotted time. He relayed to a rapt audience on day 3 of the confirmation hearings that he has a picture of Harriet Tubman on his desk.

“She went back…” to bring North slaves who had escaped from southern farms. A fugitive herself, Tubman returned by various routes to bring slaves to freedom

The comparison was not just of kind but of time. KBJ had for a fortnight made her confirmation her time. What will be remembered will not be the prognostications and foul air of depraved politicians but the “posture of the other…” what the media stumbled around using words as “poised,” “showed grace,” even re-quoting Sen. Sasse’s “winsome.”

Hell no.

KBJ is tough as nails, which is the real reason why the acting-out white boys — Cruz, Graham and Hawley — were tolerated for three days by a white male-dominated Senate Committee, finally to be called out by … hold onthe white senior Senator from Vermont, an independent, who caucuses with Democrats.

Tough as nails.

‘Tough as nails,’ in a survivalist way. Booker’s colloquy may have aired a transcendent joy at KBJ’s moment in time, but don’t mistake his agenda, celebrating her acumen and perseverance first acknowledged by an ‘anonymous angel’ whispered years ago to KBJ, then a freshman traversing Harvard Yard,


March 23–25


1-One recalls C. Vann Woodward’s plea to colleagues at Columbia to espouse a critical advancement of their profession — sociology — in their professing their work and ideas. In lieu of waddling into the “political swamp,” KBJ is asking those who profess to create and enforce the law to reflect on their impact of the law on others. The term, ‘methodology,’ is used here as a kind of shorthand to get to the issue of why we are here today, doing what we do.



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Rodney Clough

Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.